A number of children start school with a language delay that has never been identified. This is quite common as language delay is not a physical disability, which is visible often on first seeing the child. Sometimes the first point of referral is from a teacher in the classroom as they see so many children so it is easier to identify the children that are not keeping up with their peers.
Signs that a child may have a language delay
- The child looks to others for direction after being given instructions, as they did not understand the instructions themselves.
- Frequent use of non specific words like ‘thingy’, ‘it’ and ‘there’ may indicate a limited vocabulary as they do not have the specific words to be more precise.
- A student that previously excelled in maths then has significant difficulty when faced with a word based maths problem. The child may have difficulty comprehending the question which causes them to begin doing poorly in maths as well.
- Good decoding skills of words and sentences with poor comprehension of what has been read and inability to answer comprehension questions.
- Difficulty recounting events within the day or over their weekend can be due to memory or sometime it can be due to sequencing and language difficulties.
- Frequent errors in grammar within verbal language should not be common in school aged children, however infrequent errors in tense or language markers such as irregular plurals and verbs (e.g. gooses instead of geese; runned instead of ran) are normal for early primary school students.
- Students who begin to speak however give up as soon as they are not being understood. This may be a sign that it is a frequent occurrence and it is easier to stop talking and not draw attention to themselves.
Unfortunately, many of these children will try not to draw attention to themselves and will therefore fly under the radar for the first few years of schooling until mid primary when the classroom language moves from a more concrete form to more abstract language. It is important to identify children with language delay before this point as early intervention is the key and by this stage, these children have fallen significantly behind in all subjects, not just English.
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This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you have speech pathology related questions, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.