Individuals with language disorders typically find expressing themselves and comprehending what others are saying exceptionally challenging. Language disorders are relatively common among young children, occurring in approximately 10-15 percent of children under the age of 3. Language abilities become more stable by the age of 4, and these skills can be more accurately measured and deficits more easily identified.
Language disorders can make everyday situations more difficult and can have significant effects on the individual’s ability to succeed in academic, social, professional, and personal environments. While it is possible for a child to outgrow a language disorder, it is unlikely to occur without appropriate support and therapies in place. When working with an individual with a language disorder, it is important to establish a variety of techniques and approaches to help the individual cope with the day-to-day implications of the language disorder, as well as encourage and support them as they work to improve their language skills.
Speech therapy is one of the most important resources when it comes to helping someone overcome a language disorder. Getting started with speech therapy through Great Speech is as simple as scheduling your free introductory call today!
What are the Different Types of Language Disorders?
Language disorders can be classified into one of the following 3 different types:
Receptive Language Disorder: This type of language disorder involves difficulty understanding language. A receptive language disorder can make it difficult for the individual to comprehend words and sentences that they read or hear, as well as spoken language from another individual. This type of language disorder can also make the individual respond to others in ways that may not make sense.
Individuals with receptive language disorders may struggle with:
- Understanding the meanings of words and sentences
- Comprehending what people say
- Understanding and Interpreting gestures
- Learning and retaining new words
- Understanding what they read
- Understanding and retaining new concepts and ideas
- Appropriately answering questions
- Accurately following instructions
- Organizing their thoughts
- Accurately identifying objects
Expressive Language Disorder: Individuals with expressive language disorders typically have difficulty accurately using language. They are usually able to understand what others are saying but struggle to speak with others and/or express their thoughts, feelings, needs, and ideas through spoken or written language. Expressive language disorder can affect the individual’s ability to use spoken, written, and sign language.
Individuals with expressive language disorders may:
- Struggle to use words correctly
- Speak in simple or short sentences
- Have difficulty putting words in the proper order
- Struggles to ask questions
- Have difficulty using gestures
- Have a limited vocabulary compared to peers of the same age
- Talk less frequently than other children
- Omit words from sentences when speaking
- Frequently repeat certain phrases
- Have difficulty naming objects
- Echo or repeat parts of or entire questions
- Incorrectly uses past, present, and future tenses
- Omit necessary conjunctions, such as “and” or “but”
- Difficulty applying various rules of standard spoken communication
- Appear shy or reluctant to speak
- Find telling stories, singing songs, or reciting poems challenging
- Have difficulty finding appropriate words when speaking and often use sounds, such as “um,” while searching for the correct word
Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder: This type of language disorder refers to individuals with both disorders at the same time. They will often have difficulty understanding what others say as well as expressing themselves and being understood by others.
Speech therapists are experts at helping individuals with any of the adobe types of language disorders, and getting started with speech therapy is as easy as scheduling your free introductory call today!
What Causes Language Disorders?
While the exact cause of language disorders is relatively unknown, the development of these disorders can be linked to a specific health problem or disability, including:
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Brain tumor or brain illness
- Developmental disorder (autism spectrum disorder, for example)
- Damage to the central nervous system
- Birth defects, such as Down’s syndrome, fragile X syndrome, or cerebral palsy
The risk of developing a language disorder increases with instances of the following:
- Family history of language disorders
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Hearing loss
- Thinking disabilities
- Poor nutrition
- Failure to thrive (inability to maintain growth)
- Fetal alcohol syndrome
How can Professionals help with Language Disorders?
Speech therapists are experts at understanding spoken language and the development of communication skills. Speech therapy is one of the most important and effective resources when it comes to helping an individual with a language disorder.
During speech therapy appointments, a speech and language pathologist will use a wide variety of methods and techniques to help the individual as they work to improve and develop their language skills. When working with children with language disorders, they may focus on some or all of the following:
- Using toys, books, pictures, or objects
- Encouraging phonological awareness
- Building vocabulary
- Improving Reading Comprehension
- Expressing Complex Ideas through Language
- Engaging in Simple Exercises, such as an arts and crafts project
- Practicing and Improving Social Communication Skills (through back-and-forth conversation practice)
Speech therapists possess a wealth of knowledge, techniques, and resources when it comes to helping a child improve their language skills. Speech therapy may include certain games that will encourage the expansion of the child’s vocabulary and their ability to think on the spot. They may also practice the use of verbs by narrating certain actions, and in turn, ask the child to narrate their actions as well. This can help to solidify certain grammar concepts, ensuring that they can accurately use such grammatical elements as connector words, plurals, past participles, and pronouns.
Speech therapy always focuses on reaching specific goals that are outlined during the initial appointment. Reaching these goals can take weeks in some cases, and years in others.
Coping Strategies for at Home
While speech therapy is an essential part of helping someone overcome a language disorder, having specific strategies and systems in place at home is also highly important. Parents can help their child to cope with their language challenges, as well as improve their skills by engaging in the following:
- Reading, telling, and narrating stories
- Speaking to the child slowly, clearly, and briefly
- Listening attentively and responding when the child speaks
- Keeping a relaxed and encouraging atmosphere
- Asking the child to repeat instructions in their own words
Parents can help to accelerate their child’s progress by encouraging and supporting language development at home. Asking the SLP about specific activities that can be done at home that would complement the speech therapy sessions is always a good idea. Generally, parents are advised to be highly talkative around their children and narrate their actions as they do them. When the child speaks, try repeating their speech with the correct words and sentence structure to model accurate speech. Repetition will help your child learn effective speech. Don’t wait to get started with speech therapy. The sooner your child gets started, the better the potential outcome. Get started by scheduling your free introductory call today!