What Does It Mean if My Child Has A Language Delay or Disorder?

Good morning, everyone 🙂 As promised, here is a post about language delays and disorders. Coming up next are posts about activities you can do at home to help your child if they have a language delay or disorder. If you don’t know who I am, my name is Veronica and I am a mother and a school-based speech-language pathologist. If you are concerned that your child may have a language delay or disorder, you’re already taking the right steps. You’re seeking out knowledge. If your child is having difficulty in any of the areas below, have your child evaluated by a speech-language pathologist. Remember, YOU are your child’s voice, go with your gut instincts!

There are MANY different aspects of language. Below is a quick and dirty definition of language.

 Language is how well a person processes information (what they hear, see, or read), what they know, and how effective they are at communicating their wants, needs, thoughts, and opinions to others. “Communication” can be speaking, writing, gesturing, or sign language. 

 A language delay is when your child’s language is developing along the normal sequence or pattern, but they are reaching their language developmental milestones at a slower rate when compared to other children their own age. A language disorder is when one’s language is not developing along the expected pattern.

Broad, isn’t it? Here are some more specific examples of language.
alicia silverstone shrug GIF

Language is…

responding to own name

basic concepts such as knowledge of colors, shapes, animals, prepositions (off, on, under, in, etc.)
Part 1 of The Basic Language Concepts Your Child Needs and How to Teach Them at Home
Part 2 of the Basic Language Concepts Your Child Needs and How to Teach Them at Home

Identification or being able to name body parts
Part 1 of The Basic Language Concepts Your Child Needs and How to Teach Them at Home

attention span

How to Improve Your Child’s Attention Span

successfully communicating your thoughts to others
Everyday Activities to do at Home to Help Your Child Start Talking
How to Teach Your Nonverbal Child to Communicate Without Using Words
How to Expand Your Child’s Vocabulary to Improve Their Communication
vocabulary (knowing the correct word for objects/emotions/actions
Is Your Child Having Difficulty Communicating? It May Be Due to a Limited Vocabulary Bank.
How to Expand Your Child’s Vocabulary to Improve Their Communication
# of words they use while speaking (depends on their age)
Everyday Activities to do at Home to Help Your Child Start Talking
How to Expand Your Child’s Vocabulary to Improve Their Communication

following directions
Part 1 of The Basic Language Concepts Your Child Needs and How to Teach Them at Home

comprehension of questions people ask you (yes/no, who, what, where, when, why, how)

comprehension of what you read

comprehension of what you see

reasoning (She did that because….)

judgment (I shouldn’t touch this because…)

social skills (eye contact, responding, being able to discern what’s appropriate to say v. inappropriate)

understanding people’s emotions and how to react

impulse control (being able to control your emotions, ability to keep yourself from grabbing objects)

word order (AKA “syntax”; “I want to go to the store” v. “The store, I want to go”)

sequencing (performing steps in the right order and/or being able to describe, in the correct order, the steps to perform a simple task)
Part 2 of the Basic Language Concepts Your Child Needs and How to Teach Them at Home

memory

Language is NOT how well you say your sounds, that is speech. If your child has difficulty saying their sounds correctly, click here for ways you can help your child at home using everyday activities or here for ways to help them at home using a structured approach. 

 

Language Development Based on Age

Below is a language development milestone guide that I like. This can be found at: http://www.ldonline.org/article/6313

By age one

Milestones

  • Recognizes name
  • Says 2-3 words besides “mama” and “dada”
  • Imitates familiar words
  • Understands simple instructions
  • Recognizes words as symbols for objects: Car – points to garage, cat – meows

Between one and two

Milestones

  • Understands “no”
  • Uses 10 to 20 words, including names
  • Combines two words such as “daddy bye-bye”
  • Waves good-bye and plays pat-a-cake
  • Makes the “sounds” of familiar animals
  • Gives a toy when asked
  • Uses words such as “more” to make wants known
  • Points to his or her toes, eyes, and nose
  • Brings object from another room when asked

Between two and three

Milestones

  • Identifies body parts
  • Carries on ‘conversation’ with self and dolls
  • Asks “what’s that?” And “where’s my?”
  • Uses 2-word negative phrases such as “no want”.
  • Forms some plurals by adding “s”; book, books
  • Has a 450 word vocabulary
  • Gives first name, holds up fingers to tell age
  • Combines nouns and verbs “mommy go”
  • Understands simple time concepts: “last night”, “tomorrow”
  • Refers to self as “me” rather than by name
  • Tries to get adult attention: “watch me”
  • Likes to hear same story repeated
  • May say “no” when means “yes”
  • Talks to other children as well as adults
  • Solves problems by talking instead of hitting or crying
  • Answers “where” questions
  • Names common pictures and things
  • Uses short sentences like “me want more” or “me want cookie”
  • Matches 3-4 colors, knows big and little

Between three and four

Milestones

  • Can tell a story
  • Has a sentence length of 4-5 words
  • Has a vocabulary of nearly 1000 words
  • Names at least one color
  • Understands “yesterday,” “summer”, “lunchtime”, “tonight”, “little-big”
  • Begins to obey requests like “put the block under the chair”
  • Knows his or her last name, name of street on which he/she lives and several nursery rhymes

Between four and five

Milestones

  • Has sentence length of 4-5 words
  • Uses past tense correctly
  • Has a vocabulary of nearly 1500 words
  • Points to colors red, blue, yellow and green
  • Identifies triangles, circles and squares
  • Understands “In the morning” , “next”, “noontime”
  • Can speak of imaginary conditions such as “I hope”
  • Asks many questions, asks “who?” And “why?”

Between five and six

Milestones

  • Has a sentence length of 5-6 words
  • Has a vocabulary of around 2000 words
  • Defines objects by their use (you eat with a fork) and can tell what objects are made of
  • Knows spatial relations like “on top”, “behind”, “far” and “near”
  • Knows her address
  • Identifies a penny, nickel and dime
  • Knows common opposites like “big/little”
  • Understands “same” and “different”
  • Counts ten objects
  • Asks questions for information
  • Distinguished left and right hand in herself
  • Uses all types of sentences, for example “let’s go to the store after we eat”

If your child is not yet enrolled in school and you have any concerns, get a referral from your child’s pediatrician for a speech-language therapy evaluation. If your child is already enrolled in school, speak to the speech-language pathologist that serves your child’s school about an evaluation. You can also take your child to an outpatient speech-language pathologist for an evaluation, even if they are enrolled in school.

In regards to this post, here is my disclaimer statement. I am not saying that your child definitely does have a language delay or disorder based solely on the information you just read. Your child should be evaluated, in person, by a speech-language pathologist if you have any concerns. Some kids are stubborn and may be right where they should be based on their age. Some kids are “shy” (I hate that word! I see a post on that in the future…). It is better, however, to play it on the safe side and check into it.

8 thoughts on “What Does It Mean if My Child Has A Language Delay or Disorder?”

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