As a parent, you listen to how your child talks and might be comparing your child’s language skills with the skills of other children. If you sense that your child's language development is slow, you may ask other parents, relatives, or your GP for advice. People may tell you different things such as "Don't worry. He will outgrow it."
If you are worried, a speech and language assessment can determine whether language skills are developing normally, and whether or not professional intervention is needed. Early diagnosis and treatment increases the chances of improvement than simply "waiting it out".
Children with a developmental language delay have problems with understanding and/or talking.
Receptive language problems (how a child understands language) may include:
• limited receptive vocabulary
• difficulty understanding language (directions, questions)
• difficulty understanding nonverbal signals, like body language
Expressive language problems (how a child speaks) may include:
• limited number of words in each sentence
• limited expressive vocabulary and grammar
• difficulty in pronouncing a number of speech sounds
Language Disorders can be caused by many factors. Usually more than one specialist needs to be involved in identifying them. Apart from a Speech & Language Therapist this can be an Audiologist, ENT Consultant, Educational Psychologist, Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist. Possible causes include hearing impairments, cognitive impairments, physical handicaps, lack of stimulation or emotional factors. However, it is not always possible to determine why a child has a specific difficulty to learn language.
In our therapy sessions we focus on working with families to
create an optimal environment for your child to learn language.
The following are effective communication strategies that you may use with your child:
• Be at the same physical level. Get face to face.
• Follow your child's lead. Let them choose the "topic".
• Take turns. The child's turn may be a non-verbal one.
• Use language that is only slightly above their level. This provides them with models that they can try to imitate.
• Expand what they say to show that you have understood and value what they've said. For example if your child says: "eat", you can respond "Yes, he is eating."
• Look for the signals they send that show they are communicating, then help them build on them.