Language disorder and delay in children; when to worry?

Language disorder or a language delay

Language disorder or a language delay is one of the most common problems among children. According to some statistics, 15 % of children at the age of two years suffer from delayed speech, and only 70 % of those affected are able to overcome these problems at the age of four.

Each child develops at their own pace. When it comes to language learning, some children may lag than others of the same age. This kind of discrepancy is often a source of anxiety for parents, but when should you really worry about it?

1. Language disorder definition

Language disorder includes all disorders that can impair a person’s ability to speak but also to communicate. They can be of psychic or physical origin (neurological, physiological, etc.), concern speech, but also semantics (difficulty remembering the right word, the meaning of words, etc.). Language disorder manifests a delay in language acquisition, whatever their type and characteristics.

2. Types of language disorder

There are 4 types of language disorder: dyslexia, dysgraphia, dysorthography, dyscalculia

2.1 Dyslexia

Generally, manifests itself when learning to read, the child manifests difficulties in learning to read and in understanding spelling. Speech therapy can help restore this language disorder, using differentiated methods depending on the type of dyslexia diagnosed, with the collaboration of teachers and parents.

Dyslexia is not of psychiatric origin and is not caused by an intellectual disability. It could be of genetic origin or be due to a pathology affecting brain development during pregnancy.

2.2 Dysgraphia

Is a writing problem in which children fail to organize and coordinate their writing, which makes it difficult to understand. This disorder affects around 10% of children, especially boys.

Dysgraphia can affect children who are new to writing, but it can also appear at any age, in certain pathologies (Dupuytren’s disease, Parkinson’s, etc.).

2.3 Dysorthography

Is defined as a spelling acquisition disorder. This learning problem is expressed in writing by difficulties. (respect the spelling of words, spelling mistakes, anarchic word breakdowns, adding letters or syllables..).

2.4 Dyscalculia

Is a written and academic language disorder that focuses more specifically on numbers and calculation; there are difficulties understanding and using the numbers. This disorder in digital learning appears specifically in children but is not accompanied by any mental impairment. And It has an unknown origin since it is found in children who also have normal school results and whose family and social environment is normal.

Related: Child’s fine motor skills, the key points

3. Difference between language disorder and language delay

The language delay corresponds to a shift compared to the normal development curve of a child between 2 and 5 years old. We speak of language delay when a child has difficulty learning new words, or even making complete sentences corresponding to his age. However, it is important to remember that the so-called “normal” curve can vary from child to child, gender, and environment.

The language disorder is a delay that persists in children beyond the age of 5 years. This disorder can manifest itself in different ways: articulation difficulties which prevent the correct pronunciation of certain sounds, dysphasia (TDL), which results in difficulties in understanding language, or even stuttering.

4. What are the causes of language disorder?

Language and speech disorders bring together many entities with a wide variety of causes. These disorders can have a psychic origin, muscular or neurological, cerebral origin, etc.

It is, therefore, impossible to list all the pathologies that can affect language.

In children, delays and language disorder can be linked to:

Deafness or hearing loss

Attachment disorders or psycho-affective deficiencies

Speech organ paralysis

Rare neurological diseases or brain damage

Neurodevelopmental disorders (autism)

Intellectual deficit

To an undetermined cause (very often)

5. Language disorder signs

Here are some signs that can help to analyze children’s language disorder:

From birth to 12 months:

Not interacting with the noise around it.

The baby rarely makes noises.

The baby doesn’t laugh or scarcely smile.

From 12 to 24 months:

The child doesn’t make a variety of sounds.

He does not recognize his name or pronounce the phrases “papa” or “mama.”

Doesn’t make moves to communicate with others like a finger gesture.

He does not try to repeat what he hears.

From 2 to 2 and a half years:

During this age, the child is able to pronounce between 50 and 100 words and is supposed to be spoken daily. During this time, you should check these signs that your child has delayed speech:

Pronounced few understandable words.

Only communicate via gestures.

He only understands routine words.

Does not imitate animal sounds.

From 2/5 years to 3 years:

The child is unable to understand the questions that require him to choose between two options.

He doesn’t understand some questions like “What is this?”

Does not understand routine instructions.

He does not have the ability to associate words with pictures or objects around them.

From 3 to 4 years:

Inability to understand such questions as Who? Where?

He has no ability to understand basic concepts, similar to above or below.

Communication by gestures.

Complete sentences are rarely pronounced.

Repeats the questions instead of answering.

From 4 to 5 years:

The child crosses in an incomprehensible way and constantly searches for words.

The child has difficulties naming and learning about colors.

Difficulties in talking or answering questions.

6. Language disorder diagnosis:

The diagnosis of language disorder is, therefore, made first of all from the delays observed. At the same time, pediatricians and doctors can offer specific tests for children from the age of 3 years.

If they suspect problems, they will refer the child to a speech therapist so that he can establish a speech therapy assessment.

7. What are the solutions in the event of language disorder?

Language disorders bring together many entities and pathologies: the first solution is to obtain a diagnosis, either in the hospital or from a speech therapist.

In all these cases, in children, speech therapy will allow for a complete assessment, which will lead to recommendations for rehabilitation and treatment.

If the disorder is very slight (lisp, lack of vocabulary), it may be advisable to wait, especially in a young child.

Originally published on Live Positively.