Speech Therapists describe Language, and therefore language difficulties as follows:
Language is a symbolic, rule governed system used to convey a message. We know rules about what words mean e.g. the word ‘bat’ can be used to refer to hitting a ball or to a flying mammal. We know rules about how words go together e.g. ‘I am going to the shop’ instead of ‘I going shop the to’.
Speech Therapists divide language into:
- Receptive language (understanding of what is said, written or signed)
- Expressive language (speaking, signing, writing)
Language disorders can be described in different ways.
- Language Delay
- Specific Language Impairment
- Language Impairment.
Children can have a Receptive or an Expressive language disorder or Both
- A receptive language disorder refers to a difficulty understanding language
- An expressive language disorder refers to a difficulty in expressing ideas. There may be no difficultly with ‘how’ we speak but there is a problem with ‘what’ we are able to say.
Children present with a variety of language deficits including:
- Delayed language development
- Difficulty following directions
- Limited vocabulary
- Difficulties with Grammar (verb tense e.g. comed for came), plurals mouse/mice, pronouns he, she, they
- Word- finding difficulties. Children may use vague terms to describe objects e.g. thingy/ that/ this.
- Difficulty answering wh questions (who, what, where, when)
- Difficulty telling or writing cohesive stories (disjointed stories leaving out critical elements)
- May not understand jokes, idioms or words with multiple meanings
- Difficulties with basic concepts (first, last, before, after
- May have problems with Phonological Awareness (rhyme, identifying and manipulating sounds)
- Social Skills difficulties.
As children present with a wide variety of language deficits, Speech Therapists provide comprehensive language assessments and develop individualised therapy programmes to target an individual’s specific area of need.
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