Speech Therapy

Specific Language Impairment

Though some children possess a normal non-verbal intelligence, their language skills may not be that great. Such children are usually diagnosed with specific language impairment (SLI). Children with SLI would have difficulties with learning and reading at schools and as a reason can lag behind in performance.

Specific Language Impairment: Usually children who suffer from SLI, have difficulty in processing auditory information that is either too brief or too rapid.

  • Some children find it difficult to process the auditory information because they can’t remember the order in which the sounds are produced.
  • The slow processing or short memory can lead to receptive disorders meaning, the child would have a problem in understanding speech and expressing difficulties using language.
  • The degree to which each child is affected varies in each affected child. Some children would have articulation difficulties while some may have problems while expressing while some would find it difficult comprehending the speaker’s words.

Based on the type of difficulty possessed, the language impairments are classified into three categories viz.,

  1. Receptive Language Disorder
  2. Expressive Language Disorder
  3. Articulation Disorder

Diagnosing SLI: Before placing a child in any of the following categories of language impairments, a doctor would have to rule out the existence of other disorders like mental retardation, hearing problems, cleft palate, autism and other neurological disorders like cerebral palsy.

The diagnosis of language impairment in a child can be done usually when the child turns five.

The child would be evaluated on all levels of the language which would involve checking the-

  • syntactic development (sentence structures and word orders are evaluated)
  • semantic development (vocabulary check)
  • phonological development (spoken language assessment)

Once a child is recognised to be having problems with any of the above language skills, a doctor would be able to prescribe a suitable program to be followed at school and home.

How to Rectify?: It is very important that parents/teachers/caretakers play a role in helping the child get rid of his/her difficulties.

  • Make sure that the child is spoken to in a clear and understandable manner.
  • Simplify the language as much as possible.
  • There are a few pre-school programs that can help a child benefit. Usually, these schools also have normally developing children. An interaction with a normal child would encourage language development in the child.

Specific language impairment in children can be rectified provided it is diagnosed early and parents and teachers provide a helping hand to the child.

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