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what is language?

What are language disorders?

Language refers to communication through the use of words or other symbol systems.  An individual who has a language disorder may have difficulty with grammar, vocabulary, and other aspects of language.  Children with language disorders often have difficulty sequencing ideas, describing events accurately, and using language effectively to convey meaning.

Some children have problems with understanding, also called receptive language. They may have trouble:

  • Understanding what gestures mean

  • Following directions

  • Answering questions

  • Identifying objects and pictures

  • Taking turns when talking with others


Some children have problems talking, also called expressive language. They may have trouble:

  • Asking questions

  • Naming objects

  • Using gestures

  • Putting words together into sentences

  • Learning songs and rhymes

  • Using correct pronouns, like “he” or “they”

  • Knowing how to start a conversation and keep it going


Many children have problems with both understanding and talking.


What if my child speaks more than one language?

A child does not get a language disorder from learning a second language. It won’t confuse your child to speak more than one language in the home. Speak to your child in the language that you know best. Children with language disorders will have problems with both languages.


How are language disorders evaluated?

The Speech-language pathologist will gather information from the parent, the child’s teacher and other professionals involved in the child’s care.  Preschool children are generally evaluated during play as play-based assessment has been proven to be a more reliable assessment than standardized testing for children between infancy and six years of age (Toni Linder, Ed.D., 1994).  Standardized testing will be used for older preschoolers and school-age children.  The SLP will look at the following:

  • Does your child use pretend play?

  • Does your child follow directions?

  • Does your child names common objects and actions

  • Does your child knows colors, numbers, and letters

  • Does your child sings songs or repeats nursery rhymes

  • Does your child know what to do with toys?


The SLP will see if your child’s speech is easy to understand. They will see how your child uses her lips, tongue, and teeth to make sounds. They will have your child imitate sounds or words and complete an articulation test.


How are language disorders treated?

Good language skills help with learning, behavior, self- esteem, and social skills.  The Speech-language pathologist will create a treatment plan following the evaluation.  Areas of weakness will be addressed through formal goals targeted during therapy visits.  Parental involvement is key and homework activities will be explained after each visit. 


What can I do to help?

Here are some language tips:

  • Talk to your child. This will help your child learn new words.

  • Read to your child every day.

  • Point out words you see. Point to signs in the grocery store, at school, and outside.

  • Speak to your child in the language you know best.

  • Listen and respond when your child talks.

  • Encourage your child to ask you questions.

  • Give your child time to answer questions.

  • Set limits for watching TV and using electronic media. Use the time for talking and reading together.


Are you worried your child isn’t meeting the milestones with speech and language that he or she should be?  CLICK HERE to learn about speech and language developmental norms for children.



What is central auditory processing disorder?

Central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), is a complex problem affecting about 5% of school-aged children.  Children can't process the information they hear in the same way as others because their ears and brain don't fully coordinate.  Something adversely affects the way the brain recognizes and interprets sounds, most notably the sounds composing speech.


Children with CAPD often do not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words, even when the sounds are loud and clear enough to be heard.  These kinds of problems usually occur in background noise, which is a natural listening environment. 


How is CAPD Diagnosed?

Children with CAPD are thought to hear normally because they can usually detect pure tones that are delivered one by one in a very quiet environment.   So, most kids with CAPD do not have a loss of hearing sensitivity, but have a hearing problem in the sense that they do not process auditory information normally.

CAPD is an auditory deficit; therefore, an audiologist is the professional who diagnosis CAPD.  The Speech-language Pathologist will provide intervention for the disorder.  Often, your SLP will be the individual to recognize the signs and refer to the audiologist.  Some of the skills a child needs to be evaluated for an auditory processing disorder do not develop until age 6 or 7.

Symptoms of CAPD can range from mild to severe and can take many different forms. If you think your child might have a problem processing sounds, consider these questions:

  • Is your child easily distracted or unusually bothered by loud or sudden noises?

  • Are noisy environments upsetting to your child?

  • Does your child's behavior and performance improve in quieter settings?

  • Does your child have difficulty following directions, whether simple or complicated?

  • Does your child have reading, spelling, writing, or other speech-language difficulties?

  • Is abstract information difficult for your child to comprehend?

  • Are verbal (word) math problems difficult for your child?

  • Is your child disorganized and forgetful?

  • Are conversations hard for your child to follow?


CAPD is an often misunderstood problem because many of the behaviors noted above also can appear in other conditions like learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and even depression. Although CAPD is often confused with ADHD, it is possible to have both. It is also possible to have CAPD and specific language impairment or learning disabilities.


How Can I Help My Child?

Strategies applied at home and school can ease some of the problem behaviors associated with CAPD. Because it's common for kids with CAPD to have difficulty following directions, for example, these tactics might help:

  • Since most children with CAPD have difficulty hearing amid noise, it's very important to reduce the background noise at home and at school.

  • Have your child look at you when you're speaking.

  • Use simple, expressive sentences.

  • Speak at a slightly slower rate and at a mildly increased volume.

  • Ask your child to repeat the directions back to you and to keep repeating them aloud (to you or to himself or herself) until the directions are completed.

  • For directions that are to be completed at a later time, writing notes, wearing a watch, and maintaining a household routine also help. General organization and scheduling also can be beneficial.


It's especially important to teach your child to notice noisy environments, for example, and move to quieter places when listening is necessary.  Other strategies that might help:

  • Provide your child with a quiet study place (not the kitchen table).

  • Maintain a peaceful, organized lifestyle.

  • Encourage good eating and sleeping habits.

  • Assign regular and realistic chores, including keeping a neat room and desk.

  • Build your child's self-esteem.


Be sure to keep in regular contact with school officials about your child's progress.  Children with CAPD aren't typically put in special education programs. Instead, teachers can make it easier by:

  • Altering seating plans so the child can sit in the front of the room or with his or her back to the window

  • Providing additional aids for study, like an assignment pad or a tape recorder


One of the most important things that both parents and teachers can do is to acknowledge that CAPD is real.  Symptoms and behaviors are not within the child's control.  What is within the child's control is recognizing the problems associated with CAPD and applying the strategies recommended both at home and school.


A positive, realistic attitude and healthy self-esteem in a child with CAPD can work wonders.  And kids with CAPD can go on to be just as successful as other classmates.  Although some children do grow up to be adults with APD, by using coping strategies as well as techniques learned in speech therapy, they can be very successful adults.


Helpful Resources;


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