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(UK) Aberdeen: Proposal to cut speech therapy for 6,282 students; 'alarming increase' in ASD

Feb 21, 2024, Aberdeen Press and Journal: ‘Deep concern’ over proposed speech and language therapy cuts in Aberdeenshire

Proposed council cuts to speech and language therapy in Aberdeenshire schools will affect 6,282 children across the region.

“Deep concern” has been voiced over proposed cuts to children’s speech and language therapy in Aberdeenshire.

Aberdeenshire Council will decide whether to cut all funding for the service in schools and nurseries at tomorrow’s budget meeting.

Should the council decide to go ahead with the termination of speech and language therapy, 6,282 children will be affected.

Nine full-time equivalent jobs will also be lost.

Aberdeen-based charity Autism and Neurodiversity North Scotland (A-ND) said it was “deeply troubled” by the proposed cuts.

And the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) has written an open letter to Aberdeenshire councillors urging them to reject the cuts.

Council risks undoing ‘decades of progress’

Glenn Carter, head of the RCSLT in Scotland, told The P&J last year of a “significant increase” in demand for speech and language therapy since Covid.

In the open letter to councillors, Mr Carter said the cuts would:

Lead to poorer wellbeing and mental health for children.

Lead to an increase in behavioural problems.

Deepen poverty and inequality in Aberdeenshire.

Lead to poorer attainment for children.

Undo decades of progress and cause “untold damage” to partnership working.. . .

In the council’s impact assessment, it states that speech and language therapy services will continue to be provided on a statutory basis by NHS Grampian.

However, Mr Carter said it was unclear what services the council expects to receive on a statutory basis, as the funding cuts proposed will dramatically reduce the capacity of the speech and language therapy service’s work with children and young people. .


In fact, Mr Carter believes the cuts will cost the council more money in support services and future benefits in the long term.

He cited data showing that 88% of long-term unemployed young men and 60% of young people who come into contact with the justice system have been found to have speech, language or communication difficulties.

“Tomorrow’s decision will have an immediate and lasting impact on children and young people in Aberdeenshire.”

He added: “It’s important to recognise that children’s communication difficulties are not solely the healthcare sector’s responsibility.

“This is a shared responsibility with the education sector because good spoken language skills are foundational to Aberdeenshire Council’s strategic priorities of learning for life, resilient communities, and health and wellbeing.

“The cuts will also impact the council’s ability to meet their statutory duties relating to disability discrimination, exacerbating inequalities.”

Mr Carter said he was willing to work with the council to preserve and safeguard the “vital resource”.

North-east charity ‘deeply troubled’ by speech and language therapy cuts

Terry Allan, chairman of Autism & Neurodiversity North Scotland (A-ND). Iage: Global E&C

Meanwhile, Terry Allan is chairman of local charity A-ND.

Just last year, in an interview with The P&J, he told us of the “alarming increase” in the number of individuals and families “crying out” for autism and neurodiverse-specific support.

Now, with the news that speech and language therapy could be cut in schools in Aberdeenshire, Mr Allan said he was “greatly concerned”.

He added: “While we acknowledge the financial pressures facing local councils, decisions that disproportionately impact vulnerable members of our community demand thorough scrutiny and exploration of alternative options.”. .


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