Wednesday, May 1, 2013

“How do I know if my child needs help with language skills” And “How is language different from speech?"


By Gina Cato, M.A, CCC-SLP, Chief Speech/Language Pathologist


Seven-year-old Jenny was playing “I Spy” with her family. Jenny listened intently as her sister described the next item. “You use this to stay dry in the rain, and it has a handle.”

“A hammer!” Jenny said.

There are many reasons why a child could guess “hammer” instead of “umbrella” in this situation. In Jenny’s case, she has a language disorder. Jenny has problems with understanding and using the meaning, formation, and social rules of language to communicate effectively. Jenny participated in a speech/language evaluation with a Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP) when she was in Kindergarten.

In Kindergarten, Jenny’s teacher noticed several signs that Jenny was struggling to communicate. Jenny tried, but didn’t follow her teacher’s spoken directions well. If her teacher gave two steps to follow, such as, “Put your paper on my desk and find your pencil,” Jenny would find her pencil but didn’t follow the first step.  Jenny often looked at her classmates to figure out what she was supposed to do.  Jenny liked to talk, but her teachers and classmates often couldn’t figure out what she was talking about. During circle time, Jenny talked about her new puppy at home, but nobody knew she was talking about a puppy until much later. She said, “He eat food. He drinked water. He played ball.”

One or all of these problems may be signs that Jenny has a language delay or disorder.  By the end of Kindergarten, children can usually follow one to two directions in a sequence, talk about an event, and retell a story.  The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has more information on its website about language development. Go to http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development. Here you'll find a series of articles describing expected language skills from birth to fifth grade.

If you think your child has a language disorder, the Center for Hearing & Speech can help.  The Center’s certified Speech/Language Pathologists (SLPs) provide language evaluations consisting of standardized tests and informal observations. The language evaluation takes    one-and-a-half to two hours. Afterwards, you will receive a formal report explaining the results. Based on the evaluation’s findings, the SLP may recommend language therapy and/ or classroom modifications. 

Please call 314-968-4710 or visit our website at http://www.hearing-speechstlouis.org/speechlangdevelopment.php for more information. Financial assistance is available to those who qualify.

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