Developmental Language Disorder

Language is the giving and receiving of information. It is how your child understands and expresses themselves. Language disorders can make it difficult for your child to understand what other people are trying to say (receptive language) and have difficulties expressing their own thoughts and ideas (expressive).

Language disorders are a common childhood condition. You might notice your child is not using a large variety of words (limited vocabulary) or the sentences are short and incomplete (sentence structure and grammar). Your child may only put 1 or 2 words in a sentence and has difficulty answering questions.

Children with language disorders do not have hearing issues, nor do they have issues with the sounds. Your child has difficulty learning the rules for language, the number of words needed, where the words go in the sentence, what the different questions mean and what extra sounds go on words to change the meaning (grammar).

There are many symptoms of a language disorder. The most common are.

  • Limited vocabulary compared to a peer of a similar age.
  • Uses filler words such as “um”, “this” or “that” rather than the specific words.
  • Required new words to be taught rather than learning through the environment.
  • Sentences are disjointed leaving out the “little words”.
  • Can say single words clearly but when putting the words into sentences the clarity decreases.
  • Limited range of sentence structure (often use the same phrase to mean several different things)

Diagnosis of a receptive language disorder

18 months – not following simple routine directions such as “get your shoes”.

24 months – not pointing to body parts or simple pictures in books.

30 months – not answering simple questions.

36 months – not following 2-step instructions and different location phrases (in the. …, on the, under the)

Diagnosis of an expressive language disorder

18 months – not saying mum, dad and other names

24 months – is using at least 50 words and starting to put two words together

30 months – consistently using 2-word phrases

36 months – not putting 3-4 words into a sentence, not understanding and asking questions, has a vocabulary of around 200-300 words.

But my child is learning more than one language…

A child does not get a language disorder by learning two languages. Learning 2 or more languages is incredibly complex, however, children can manage this. A child does not present with symptoms of language disorder because they are learning two languages. Children with language disorders will have difficulties with both languages. Use the language the child is most familiar with.