Language development in children takes place in two phases. Before they can speak the language itself, children learn to understand the language first. By nature, parents are worrisome beings. Therefore, if a child expresses any difficulty in speaking or communicating somehow parents panic. For immediate relief, they resort to Google’s Search function and type, “Symptoms of language disorders in children”. And we all know how Google treats medical ailments. Speech therapist after speech therapist, speech therapy after speech therapy; before you know it, your child’s undergone the complete language disorder treatment course. Not to take anything away from Google’s Search function but language disorder treatment is a slightly more complex function that needs professional attention. The rest of this article is solely devoted to language disorders in children; what it is, its symptoms, types and possible remedies.
[Read more: Language Development In Children]
Table Of Contents
1. What Classifies As A Language Disorder?
2. Causes Of Language Disorders In Children
3. Symptoms Of Language Disorders In Children
4. How To Help Children Who Suffer From Language Disorders
What Classifies As A Language Disorder?
Language disorders are of two types: Receptive Language Disorders and Expressive Language Disorders. When a person is unable to understand or comprehend the meanings of the words or sentences that are read or written, the person suffers from a receptive language disorder.
On the other hand, however, if a person is unable to express how they feel in words or sentences, the person is most likely suffering from an expressive language disorder.
There’s no hard and fast rule that states that a person who’s suffering from one kind of language disorder cannot suffer from the other kind, as well. There are cases in which people suffer from both: receptive and expressive language disorders.
Over here it’s very important to make the distinction between language disorders and speech or hearing disorders. Both these problems are very different. When dealing with children, it’s extremely easy to get confused between the two. A language disorder is a specific disorder that translates into an ability to apply or understand the rules of languages. It’s not a speech problem, it’s not a hearing problem; it’s a language problem and needs to be dealt with differently!
[Read more: Language Developmental Milestones]
Causes Of Language Disorders In Children
This may news may not be extremely comforting but nobody knows the exact pin-point reason that gives rise to language disorders in children. When the cause behind the language disorder is unknown it’s called a developmental language disorder. With that being said, a few educated guesses with reference to the causes have been made. But before we get into that, there’s something that you need to know. Language disorders aren’t related to a particular language. A child who suffers from language disorders will face the same difficulty with all kinds of languages, the problem is not with the language.
- Genes: Language disorders can be hereditary in nature.
- Pregnancy Problems: Sometimes language disorders can result from pregnancy problems. Poor prenatal nutrition and premature birth are two common pregnancy problems that can be the cause behind language disorders in children.
- Other Medical Conditions: More often than, language disorders accompany other kinds of medical conditions. For example; sufferers of autism or down syndrome generally suffer from language disorders.
Symptoms Of Language Disorders In Children:
The symptoms indicate to what kind of language disorder the child suffers from. Your child could have one, two or more of these symptoms. The extent of these symptoms could be mild, moderate or severe; it really varies from case to case.
(a) Receptive Language Disorder Symptoms: Children who suffer from receptive language disorders have difficulty in understanding the language. Diagnosing children with receptive language disorders is extremely difficult. With that being said, its major symptoms include:
- Inability to comprehend the meaning of what’s being read or written.
- Inability to organize mental thoughts.
- Inability to follow or understand directions.
(b) Expressive Language Disorder Symptoms: Children who suffer from expressive language disorders have a hard time expressing themselves in words or sentences. When compared to receptive language disorders, expressive language disorders are much easier to identify. Its major symptoms include:
- Inability to draft complete sentences.
- Showcases a preference to use short sentences instead of long ones.
- Constantly inter-changes words with their false meanings.
- Often faces difficulty finding the right words.
- Takes too much time to say a word and makes repetitive use of placeholder words.
- A below-par vocabulary when compared to other children in the same age bracket.
- An involuntary omission of words from sentences.
- Inability to understand tenses and use them correctly.
- Repetitive usage of certain phrases over-and-over again.
- Shows frustration with the inability to adequately communicate one’s thoughts and emotions.
With that being said, remember, these are just some symptoms that may indicate that your child is suffering from a language disorder. In order to be sure about it, visit a doctor. The doctor will conduct a thorough diagnosis and tell you exactly what the matter is, how serious it is and how to deal with it.
How To Help Children Who Suffer From Language Disorders:
Children who suffer from language disorders need all the love that their parents can give them. Empathy is key here. Parents need to understand the social and academic challenges that they face. It’s also extremely important to start helping the children get over the language disorder as soon as possible. The sooner you begin treatment, the better the results.
There are many treatment options available for children who suffer from language disorders. Such children need both; domestic help and professional help.
- Speech Therapy: Speech therapy is perhaps the most important remedial tool to treat language disorders. Speech therapists conduct one-on-one sessions with the patient, your child, in order to understand the extent of the language disorder correctly. One-on-one sessions are extremely beneficial as the speech therapist gives your child all the attention that’s required. During the session, the therapist will play games and monitor exercises that will work towards improving your child’s grammar and vocabulary.
- Psychotherapy: Being a victim of a language disorder is not easy. Especially for children. As mentioned above, a child’s social and academic life is filled with challenges because of the difficulties that language disorders create. Hence, the mental health of a child is subject to change. Emotional difficulties may arise and stutter your child’s mental development. With that being said, psychotherapy is not a must. Its need differs from child to child. It’s best to consult a professional before taking your child for a psychotherapy session.
Domestic Help (help at home and school):
- Give choices: Children with language disorders may find it difficult to speak. Hence, try to make their job easier. Avoid asking them open-ended questions. Always try to give them options to choose from. By doing so, you make it easier for them to communicate with you.
- Be super-interactive with them: Yes, your child may take some time to respond or communicate with you and it may be a little harder for him/her to do so but never give up. It’s super important for you to constantly interact with your child. When you are going to the supermarket or somewhere, take your child along with you. Play music, point out all new things for him/her to see, make it a point that you are always talking. Give him/her some time to respond to your question. Resist that helpful urge that springs up when your child’s finding it difficult to express himself/herself. Just be patient.
- Cultivate a love for stories and books: Most children who suffer from some language disorder may find it difficult to read and grasp the meaning of the words. But that’s okay. Reading, more importantly, stories are extremely important to develop their creativity and imagination. You read out the stories to them. Give them a detailed explanation. Explain the picture and the story the behind the pictures. To make it a little bit more interactive, you can ask them to finish the story for you, give alternative endings, give their insight into the events taking place in a picture etc.