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Boys need more help to learn how to talk

Almost one in six children have problems learning to talk, with boys facing more difficulties than girls, a survey found.

More than one in five (22pc) of boys experience problems with talking and understanding speech, compared to around one in seven (13pc) girls, according to a poll of more than 1,000 parents of youngsters aged one to seven.

Boys are also twice as likely as girls (5pc compared to 2pc) to have significant problems with talking.

The poll was published by Jean Gross, England's first Communications Champion.

The findings show that almost 17pc of children face difficulties with communication.

A quarter (23pc) do not receive any help with speech problems, and almost half (46pc) did not receive help from a speech and language therapist.

Others received help from a teacher, health visitor or nursery and playgroup staff.

The survey found that around six in 10 parents believe talking, listening and understanding are the most important skills for children to develop during their early years, ahead of interacting with others (26pc), reading skills (11pc) numeracy skills (2pc) and writing skills (1pc).

Ms Gross said: "Our ability to communicate is fundamental and underpins everything else. Learning to talk is one of the most important skills a child can master in the 21st century. The proportion of children who have difficulty learning to talk and understand speech is high, particularly among boys.

"It is essential that all children get the help they need from skilled professionals as early as possible. The lack of this is cause for great concern because the results of this poll shows that parents place learning to talk and listen as a top priority for their children, whatever their social class, and do a great deal to help them learn to communicate."