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My Child has a Language Delay. What can I do?

What is a language delay?

A language delay is when a child has difficulties understanding and may challenges in using spoken language. These difficulties are not typical or are unusual for the child’s age. These difficulties might be with: saying first words or learning how to put words together, making sentences or understanding words in sentences (Raising Children Network, 2022).


It has been estimated that between 16 and 21% of five year olds experience speech or language difficulties, with up to 50% of these children have problems in both areas (Reilly et al., 2010).


Children with poor language skills may have:

  • Language impairments or delay can cause reading difficulties which can led to school achievements and can impact associated behavioral difficulties (Durkin et al., 2011; Schoon et al., 2010).

  • Ongoing communication problems in adulthood (Bashir & Scavuzzo, 1992).

  • Without targeted intervention this impact can be lasting which may affect future employment prospects (Beitchman et al., 1994).


In year 1 children can typically understand:

Receptive language

  • Follow 2-3 step instructions in a sequence

  • Understand more basic concepts such as same & different (size & function); quantity (few, most, pair) and time.

  • Use accurate grammar accurately.

  • Understand all basic wh- questions such as what, why, when, where.

  • Use higher level language such as jokes, tease, sarcasm, argument, explanations, predictions.

In year 1, children can say (expressive or language):

Expressive

  • Say approximately 2600 words.

  • Answer more complex yes/no questions.

  • Use complete sentences to express themselves.

  • Ask and answer all basic wh- questions.

  • Use most parts of speech and grammar accurately.

  • Sort objects into categories.

  • Use regular and irregular past tense verbs.

  • Use conjunctions such as "because, then, before, if…"

  • Initiate conversation, sustain topic and take turns.

Image from SPA (2016).

Speak to Access 2 Speech Pathology for guidance and what to do to improve your child's language ability on email: access2speech@gmail.com or phone 0400836254 for an appointment.


References

Speech Pathology Australia (2016). Communication Milestones, retrieved from Communication Milestones (speechpathologyaustralia.org.au)

Raising Children Network (2022). Language Delay, retrieved from Language delay in children | Raising Children Network

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