How You Know Your Child Might Have a Language Disorder

If someone has ever recommended that your child see an expert in speech pathology, then you might be quite confused by what they mean. If your child doesn’t have problems with stuttering or pronunciation, then how can they need to see a speech pathologist?

You may be surprised to know that communication goes beyond just speaking, and speech pathology can be a way in which to help children with many disabilities. Read on to learn what indicators may be present to identify a language disorder, and why a speech expert could be of assistance.

How to Define a Language Disorder

You can define a language disorder as having trouble expressing your thoughts vocally, or finding it problematic to understand what other people are saying. Speech, reading, and writing all form part of a language disorder, with treatment options depending on what that disorder is. Language disorders can go hand in hand with other conditions, such as developmental disabilities, autism, and ADHD.

What Does a Language Disorder Look Like?

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), a language disorder can be broken down into:

  • Phonology
  • Syntax and Morphology
  • Semantics
  • Pragmatics
  • Social, emotional, and behavioural considerations

Phonology relates to problems with early speech, limited phonological awareness (rhyming, blending), limited vocalisation compared to same-age peers, and difficulties with speech sound. Morphology and syntax, on the other hand, refers to errors with verbs and pronouns, trouble with grammar, and challenges relating to complex sentences, among other things.

Children with language disorders may also find it challenging to play and relate to peers, comprehend social situations, and contribute in classroom environments.

What Can a Speech Pathologist Do?

A language disorder should always be diagnosed by an experienced professional, so the first step for any worried parent should be their child’s GP. If they have concerns, they may refer the parent to a speech pathologist to intervene and provide a diagnosis and treatment options.

How someone in speech pathology can help depends on the age of the child and the severity of the language disorder, not to mention whether any other disabilities and conditions may play a part.

Intervention for preschoolers between the age of three and five can include learning sentence structures, phonology, semantics, literacy, morphology, syntax, and pragmatics. Once again, it’s dependent on the severity of the language disorder and what the individual requires.

Intervention is also offered for primary school-aged children between five and ten years old, adolescents from 11 to high school, and post-secondary school children as well.

A whole host of different treatment options can form part of a speech pathologist’s arsenal, so don’t be afraid to ask what might be right for your child. Some of these form more natural elements of a child’s everyday living, while others are clinician-directed in a therapy room setting. Many approaches are a mixture of both, with play and activities with a speech pathologist, partnered with a natural environment.

Any parent who is worried about their child is encouraged to get in touch with their GP to get their child the help they may need.