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Are you worried that your child may be having learning difficulties at school or your pre-schooler may be displaying behavioural issues as a result of delayed language skills? It is possible that your child’s language skills may be affecting their learning, speaking, understanding, behavior and social skills.

Language falls under 2 categories:
♣︎ Receptive Language (Understanding)
♣︎ Expressive Language (Use/ Speaking)

Receptive Language

Receptive language refers to comprehension skills; how much a child is able to understand and how well they are able to follow instructions of varying lengths and complexity. Language development continues throughout a child’s early years and later into teenage years however by the time a child is in school (primary school years), they should have acquired most adult-like language skills. 

The following characteristics are symptomatic of a receptive language delay or difficulty:

- Difficulty following instructions

- Difficulty answering questions or responding to comments

- Poor understanding of the meaning of a variety of words/ age appropriate                                       concepts (vocabulary)

- Slow academic progress including reading/writing skills

- Poor social skills

- Poor concentration/ attention skills

- Tendency to copy others’ actions when given instructions

Our speech therapists can work with children as young as 12 months to remediate language delays.Look at our Developmental Milestones Checklist to compare the language expectations for children at various stages and determine whether your child is displaying age-appropriate language skills.

Expressive Language

Does my child have difficulty with his/her expressive language. Expressive language refers to the use of language. This includes difficulties formulating sentences, choosing appropriate words, correctly applying grammatical structures/ word endings and/or sequencing ideas to tell or retell a story. Difficulties with expressive language can fall under the following categories:

1. Vocabulary- difficulty understanding and using age-appropriate words/ concepts

2. Syntax/ Grammar- difficulty in forming sentences that are grammatically correct for their age and/or using the correct forms (plural, past tense, etc.)

3. Pragmatics- difficulty in using language socially, i.e. appropriate initiation, maintenance and termination of conversation, turn-taking skills and appropriate use of other nonverbal behaviours during communication

A child who is experiencing difficulties or a delay with their expressive language skills may display one or more of the following characteristics:

- Makes wrong choice of words when speaking or omits words
- Orders words wrongly in his/her sentence
- Uses incorrect grammatical structures e.g. ‘his’ for ‘hers’, ‘breaked’ for ‘broke’, etc.
- Has poor or low vocabulary
- Difficulty holding a conversation
- Difficulty asking questions, making requests, making comments, re-telling a story, etc.




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