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What Every Parent Needs to Know About Their Child’s Language Disorder

Most parents are not aware that a language disorder even exists until their child is diagnosed with one. Language disorders can vary in degrees of severity, and the earlier they are caught, the easier they are to treat. This blog post will give you an overview of what a language disorder is, its common symptoms, and how to get your child the help they need.


In this article we will discuss:


What is a language disorder?

A language disorder is a condition that makes it difficult for a person to understand and/or use spoken or written language. Language disorders can range from mild to severe and can be acquired or developmental. Developmental language disorders are the most common type of language disorder and usually become apparent in early childhood.


Language disorder can highly affect children.

Types of Language Disorders


1. Receptive Language Disorder Receptive language refers to the ability to understand or comprehend spoken language.


Examples of Receptive language skills include following directions, answering questions, and being able to understand stories. If your child has a receptive language disorder, they may have difficulty with one or more of these skills.

2. Expressive Language Disorder Expressive language refers to the ability to communicate using gestures, words, phrases, and sentences. This includes saying first words, putting words together to make sentences, and using gestures (e.g., waving goodbye). If your child has an expressive language disorder, they may have difficulty with one or more of these skills

. 3. Pragmatic Language Disorder Pragmatic language refers to the ability to use language for social purposes such as making small talk, asking questions, and making requests. Children with a pragmatic language disorder may have difficulty with these skills.

4. Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder Mixed receptive-expressive language disorder is a combination of both receptive and expressive language disorders.


Language disorders need professional treatment

Language disorder should be treated as soon as detected.

Language Disorder Symptoms

It is important to know the different language disorder symptoms that can help you identify if your child may have a problem.

1. Difficulty following directions Following directions is an auditory comprehension skill. This means that your child needs to be able to listen to the directions and understand what they are supposed to do. If your child has difficulty following directions, they may have a receptive language disorder.

2. Difficulty answering questions Answering questions is another auditory comprehension skill. If your child has difficulty answering questions, they may have a receptive language disorder. 3. Difficulty understanding stories Understanding stories is another auditory comprehension skill. If your child has difficulty understanding stories, they may have a receptive language disorder.

4. Difficulty saying first words Saying first words is an expressive language skill. If your child has difficulty saying first words, they may have an expressive language disorder. Not to be confused with selective mutism, which is often associated with a psychological response to producing language rather than an inability to produce language. Selective mutism and speech therapy are not often synonymous.

5. Difficulty putting words together to make sentences Putting words together to make sentences is an expressive language skill. If your child has difficulty putting words together to make sentences, they may have an expressive language disorder.

If you think your child has language disorder, seek professional help.

6. Difficulty understanding stories or conversations Understanding stories or conversations is a pragmatic language skill. If your child has difficulty understanding stories or conversations, they may have a pragmatic language disorder.

7. Difficulty making small talk Making small talk is a pragmatic language skill. If your child has difficulty making small talk, they may have a pragmatic language disorder.

8. Trouble answering questions about something they just heard Answering questions about something they just heard is a pragmatic language skill. If your child has trouble answering questions about something they just heard, they may have a pragmatic language disorder.

9. Difficulty making requests Making requests is a pragmatic language skill. If your child has difficulty making requests, they may have a pragmatic language disorder.

Children with Language disorders may also have:

  • difficulty with phonology, which is the sound system of a language

  • having a hard time with morphology, which is the study of word formation

  • difficulty with syntax, which is the grammatical structure of a language

  • having a hard time with semantics, which is the meaning of words and sentences

These are different areas of language that can be affected in children with a language disorder.

How do you know if your child has a language disorder?

If you are concerned that your child may have a language disorder, there are some common language disorder symptoms to look out for. Keep in mind that every child is different, so not all children with a language disorder will display all of these symptoms.

  • Delayed speech development: This can include late babbling, late use of first words, and slow development of new words.

  • Difficulties using and understanding gestures: This can include poor eye contact, trouble pointing or waving bye-bye, and difficulty following simple directions.

  • Repetitive or unusual use of language: This can include echolalia (repeating what someone else says), perseveration (repeating the same words or phrases over and over), and idiosyncratic phrases (using made-up words or phrases that only make sense to the child).

  • Poor social skills: This can include difficulty initiating or sustaining conversations, trouble with turn-taking, and poor eye contact.

If your child is displaying any of these symptoms, it is important to talk to your pediatrician or a speech-language pathologist to get a professional opinion.

What causes language disorders?

The exact cause of language disorder symptoms is unknown, but there are several risk factors that have been identified. These include:

  • Family history: Language disorders tend to run in families, so if you or someone in your family has a history of language disorder, your child is at an increased risk.

  • Premature birth: Children who are born prematurely (before 37 weeks gestation) are at an increased risk for language disorders.

  • Low birth weight: Children who have a low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds) are also at an increased risk.

  • Hearing loss: If a child has difficulty hearing, they may also have difficulty with language development.

How will a language disorder affect your child’s ability to communicate with others?

While every child is different, children with language disorders generally have difficulty communicating with others. This can make it difficult for them to make friends, participate in class, and understand what other people are saying. It is important to seek professional help if you think your child may have a language disorder, as early intervention can make a big difference in your child’s ability to communicate with others.

Children on the Autism Spectrum generally have language disorders. They may also have difficulty with pragmatic language skills, such as making requests or sustaining a conversation.


Some children simply process language differently and need assistance in understanding and breaking it down (i.e., Gestalt speech therapy).


If your child has a language disorder, it is important to seek professional help to ensure that they receive the best possible treatment.

How is a language disorder diagnosed?

If you are concerned that your child has a language disorder, the first step is to talk to your pediatrician or a speech-language pathologist. They will ask you questions about your child’s development and may observe your child to see how they communicate with others. They may also administer a hearing test to rule out any hearing problems. In some cases, they may also recommend a developmental assessment or an IQ test. Once all of the testing is complete, the speech-language pathologist will be able to diagnose your child and develop a treatment plan.


Speech therapists can diagnose and treat children with language disorder.

How to treat language disorder?

The good news is that language disorders are treatable! The earlier they receive treatment,

the better! First, speech language treatment will focus on helping your child develop the skills they need to improve their communication. This may include speech therapy, occupational therapy, and/or social skills groups. In some cases, medication may also be recommended to help with attention or other behavioral issues. Speech therapy can begin in preschool, or even before! But luckily, if a language disorder is caught later in childhood, treatment can begin at any time.

In addition, there are things you can do at home to help your child. These include reading to them regularly, providing them with opportunities to practice their communication skills, and being patient while they learn. With the right treatment and support, your child will be able to improve their communication skills and lead a happy and successful life.


Best ways to help your child overcome their language disorder

As a parent, you may be wondering what you can do to help your child if they have been diagnosed with a language disorder. While it is important to follow the advice of your child’s doctor or therapist, here are some general tips that may be helpful in communicating with your child:


Be patient

It is important to allow extra time for your child to process what you are saying. It is common for children with language disorders to take longer to respond to questions or requests. For example, when asking a question, giving your child 5-10 second pauses to respond. This way, they will have extra time to think about what they want to say.


Use short, simple sentences

When communicating with your child, use short and simple sentences. This will help them to better understand what you are saying. For example, instead of saying “What would you like for breakfast?”, try “Do you want eggs or oatmeal for breakfast?”


Teach your child language goals at home.

Encourage your child to take turns

When talking with your child, encourage them to take turns. This will help them to practice their communication skills. For example, you can say “I’ll talk, then you talk”. You can also model taking turns by saying “I like…”, then allowing your child to fill in the blank.

Give your child choices

When making requests, give your child two choices. This will help them to better understand what you are asking. For example, instead of saying “Do you want to put your shoes on?”, try “Do you want to wear your sneakers or your dress shoes?”


Provide visuals

When possible, provide visuals along with your words. This may include using gestures, pictures, or written words. This will help your child to better understand what you are saying.

With the right treatment and support, your child can overcome their language disorder and lead a happy and successful life. At Better Speech, we offer online speech therapy services convenient for you and tailored to your child's individual needs. Our services are affordable and effective - get Better Speech now.

 

About the Author

Mikee Larrazabal


I am a Speech-Language Pathologist with 14 years of experience working with children and adults who have communication difficulties. I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science at Cebu Doctors' University and have been helping people overcome their communication challenges ever since.


I have worked with individuals of different ages, including toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, adults and seniors. I'm passionate about speech therapy and take great satisfaction in helping people overcome their communication challenges and improve their lives through better communication skills. In my spare time I like reading books, going hiking in nature and taking care of my dog Locas.

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