Last week the DCSF announced that it was launching a review into the support services that are currently available for children with speech, language and communication difficulties. The review is scheduled to be published next summer, and will tackle a range of issues that affect the 89,000 school-aged children in the UK for whom speech and language difficulties are considered a primary special educational need.
There is already a fair amount of literature available on the Web that deals with this topic. For a concise summary of the long-term impact of communication difficulties, try taking a look at this paper from the National Literacy Trust, which provides a very useful list of suggestions for further reading. The NLT is also responsible for the Talk To Your Baby project, which aims to help infants to become good communicators by encouraging parents and carers to talk to children at an early age.
Other recommended reading includes this recent research report from the DfES, or Research with Children who do not use Speech, an alternate version of an article which was published in the Children & Society journal in 2005. The ICAN website is also a useful source of materials in this area.