Language Disorders

  1. Language Disorders
    1. A receptive language disorder is when a child has difficulty understanding language (spoken and/or written) at the expected age levels.
    2. An expressive language disorder is when a child has difficulty talking or expressing his/her ideas.
  2. Language disorders can range from slow acquisition of language or a stutter.
  3. Some signs of a language disorder are: beginning to talk late, difficulty following and/or giving directions, difficulty understanding questions or jokes, limited vocabulary, incorrect grammar (tense, pronouns, etc), difficulty remembering words, the use of non-specific words (stuff, thingy), tells or writes disjointed stories, and a lack of social skills.  Children may also:
  4. Unfortunately, some children are labeled as mischievous or bad because symptoms may be the same as with a language impairment.  Some symptoms are: easy to distract, slower to answer questions, slower to follow directions, not planning well, difficulty predicting and inferring, difficulty understanding the meaning of stories, disorganized behavior, difficulty listening, and the reliance of familiar activities.
  5. Most of the time, the causes of language problems are unknown and is called a developmental language disorder.  Some of the known causes include: hearing loss, neurological disorders, brain injury, mental retardation, drug abuse, and autism.
  6. Call your child’s health care provider if you see the following signs that your child does not understand language well:
    1.  Have a hard time putting words together into sentences, or their sentences may be simple and short and the word order may be off
    2. Have difficulty finding the right words when talking, and often use placeholder words such as “um”
    3. Have a vocabulary that is below the level of other children the same age
    4. Leave words out of sentences when talking
    5. Use certain phrases over and over again, and repeat (echo) parts or all of questions
    6. Use tenses (past, present, future) improperly
  • At 15 months, does not look or point at 5 to 10 people or objects when they are named by a parent or caregiver
  • At 18 months, does not follow simple directions, such as “get your coat”
  • At 24 months, is not able to point to a picture or a part of the body when it is named
  • At 30 months, does not respond out loud or by nodding or shaking the head and asking questions
  • At 36 months, does not follow 2-step directions, and does not understand action words

Also call if you notice these signs that your child does not use or express language well:

  • At 15 months, is not using three words
  • At 18 months, is not saying, “Mama,” “Dada,” or other names
  • At 24 months, is not using at least 25 words
  • At 30 months, is not using two-word phrases, including phrases that include both a noun and a verb
  • At 36 months, does not have at least a 200-word vocabulary, is not asking for items by name, exactly repeats questions spoken by others, language has regressed (become worse), or is not using complete sentences
  • At 48 months, often uses words incorrectly or uses a similar or related word instead of the correct word