SPEECH/LANGUAGE DELAYS AND DISORDERS
A speech/language delay means that the child is following a typical path of speech development, but at a slower than normal rate. A speech/language disorder indicates that, for some reason, the child has ‘misread’ the information needed to develop those skills. There are many causes for language delays/disorders in children but often there is not an identifiable cause for the difficulty. Language disorders change because as children develop, there are different demands upon their language systems.
The child may have a receptive language impairment, expressive
language impairment, or both. A receptive language impairment means they
have difficulty understanding language. This may impact their vocabulary,
grammatical understanding (understanding possessives or past tense verbs, for
example), nonverbal language, understanding of humor or sarcasm, or following
directions. Expressive language impairments are evident in the ability
to make wants/needs know to others. They may have shorter or simplified
sentences. They may leave out words or word endings. They may miss
auxiliary or helping verbs. They may not be able to name objects or use
the correct vocabulary word when needed. Sometimes they cannot retrieve
what they know. They may use a word similar to the word required but are
unable to ‘find it’. Often they will say, “I know it but I can’t think
of it’. These difficulties may interfere with their willingness to participate
in classroom discussions. It also can affect their social development,
as others may think they are being funny when they use the wrong word.
Children with language disorders may also have difficulty with phonological skills. They may not be able to take words or sentences apart into their individual components. The may not be able to blend sounds. These skills have a direct impact upon their educational progress in reading, written expression, and spelling.