Speech and Language difficulties
Speech, language and communication are integral to development. We need to find effective ways to communicate with others so that our needs are known and so that we can interact. For most people, this is done through speech. As a result of this, we place a heavy importance on developing effective speech, language and communication within our curriculum. Some children have a difficulty in this area and require some further support.
Language is both give and take, it is understanding what others are saying, their questions and instructions (receptive language) and the message we impart in talking (expression). It can be used for a variety of social interactions eg greeting, commenting, questioning, requesting, conversation. When a child learns language, they learn meanings of individual words and how to string them together to form a sentence. This will necessitate syntax, grammar and comprehension of higher concepts like inference. They learn how to manipulate different linguistic elements to make questions or narratives and how to combine these with other speakers to make conversation. A child starts developing language at birth, with first words occurring from 12 months; word combinations tend to occur a year later.
Speech is the name for the sounds we use to get our message across. It varies from language to language, and even within one language different people will speak with different vowels and consonants, using different intonation patterns. Phonology is the name we give to the arrangement of speech sounds in a language. A child with a speech difficulty will have problems with the sounds they use. This is not necessarily a physical articulation problem but may be a difficulty with discrimination of sounds, auditory memory, production of sounds or co-ordinating the processes eg oral dyspraxia. Good hearing is necessary for good speech and we will advise a hearing test if your child demonstrates difficulty with their speech.
It is not uncommon for young children to stammer while learning language and many will outgrow it without any intervention. The stammering may take the form of repetitions of parts of words, prolongations or stopping altogether before certain sounds. If your child displays stammering, we will place a referral with the speech and language therapist for bespoke support.
This is an area of communication which deals with the unspoken rules of conversation and interaction. Social communication means knowing how to use the skills of speech and language effectively with others. It can involve body language, reciprocity, recognising verbal and non-verbal cues and humour. It is the area of language that typically an autistic person will find most difficult.
Attention and listening
Talking is all very good but only effective if a child can listen too. Listening is a vital tool in learning. Attention and listening develop in young children in a recognised pattern, from single-channelled fixation to flexible and voluntary listening skills (integrated attention). When a child has difficulty sustaining and maintaining focus, their learning will suffer. At Fernhurst, we have a range of games and intervention to support the development of effective listening and attention as the first step of support.
Helpful websites to find our more:
Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)
Developmental language disorder (DLD) is a communication disorder that interferes with learning, understanding, and using language. These language difficulties are not explained by other conditions, such as hearing loss or autism, or by extenuating circumstances, such as lack of exposure to language. DLD can affect a child’s speaking, listening, reading, and writing. DLD has also been called specific language impairment, language delay, or developmental dysphasia. It is one of the most common developmental disorders.
A child with DLD often has a history of being a late talker (reaching spoken language milestones later than peers). Although some late talkers eventually catch up with peers, children with DLD have persistent language difficulties.
Younger children with DLD may:
- Be late to put words together into sentences.
- Struggle to learn new words and make conversation.
- Have difficulty following directions, not because they are stubborn, but because they do not fully understand the words spoken to them.
- Make frequent grammatical errors when speaking.
Symptoms common in older children and adults with DLD include:
- Limited use of complex sentences.
- Difficulty finding the right words.
- Difficulty understanding figurative language.
- Reading problems.
- Disorganized storytelling and writing.
- Frequent grammatical and spelling errors.
Language difficulties may be misinterpreted as a behavioral issue. For example, a child who struggles with language may avoid interactions, leading others to think that the child is shy. A child may not follow directions because they don’t understand the instructions, but others may interpret this as misbehavior. A child who struggles to communicate may become frustrated and act out. When a child is struggling at home or in school, it is important to determine if language difficulties may be part of the problem.