Language disorders and delays can cause significant problems for children. A language disorder is an impairment that makes it difficult for children to find the right words to communicate. They have a problem forming clear sentences and also have difficulty understanding what the other person is saying.
The inability to express their thoughts and feelings and difficulty in understanding other people can also affect the child’s ability to interact socially.
While there is no specific cause of language disorders, children may suffer from it due to a family history, premature birth, hearing loss, autism, intellectual disabilities, down syndrome, stroke, brain injury, tumour, cerebral palsy, poor nutrition or low birth weight.
Determining if Your Child has a Language Disorder
Parents can often determine if their child has a language disorder by observing their vocabulary. If the child uses short and basic sentences that are incomplete or grammatically incorrect, that may be an indicator of delayed learning. Another possible indicator is if the child has problems answering simple questions or communicating with their peers.
However, it is important to remember that language disorders are not the same as speech disorder or hearing disorder. When a child has a language disorder, they typically do not have any trouble hearing or pronouncing words. Their primary difficulty is formulating sentences and using correct grammar. They are also not just late talkers but in fact have actual communication issues that need to be resolved.
Types of Language Disorders
There are three main types of language disorders:
RECEPTIVE LANGUAGE DISORDER
This is where the child has difficulty understanding what other people say. Children who suffer from receptive language issues have trouble understanding gestures, following directions, answering simple questions, identifying objects and images etc.
EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE DISORDER
With this disorder, the child has difficulty expressing thoughts and ideas. Children with expressive language issues have trouble asking questions, naming objects, using gestures, formulating sentences, learning songs and rhymes, using pronouns, carrying on a conversation etc.
MIXED-RECEPTIVE-EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE DISORDER
When this condition is displayed, the child has both difficulty understanding other people and expressing themselves.
Help and Support for Children with Language Disorders
Children can overcome language related challenges if they receive the right support and encouragement. Speech therapists are trained to do so and can help the child develop speech and language skills that would enable them to be more articulate as well as understand what others say to them.
Children can overcome language delays and disorders with the right strategies such as the use of simple gestures, picture boards and computers. Parents and caregivers can also help by talking to their children, helping them learn new words, reading to them every day, pointing out new words and signs, listening attentively to the child when they talk and to respond patiently, encouraging them to ask questions and give them time to answer your questions, and by utilizing the electronic media effectively to help them develop basic language skills.