MortonServices and Clinical CentersOutpatient Rehabilitation

Language for Learning

By Michelle Mitchell, M.Ed, CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist 
(Published in The Raynham Call - September 2012)

As September beckons, children begin to transition from a relaxing summer of swimming, camps and outdoor play to the new school year.  Although for many it is a time of excitement, for children with speech and language disorders, it can cause anxiety and frustration from the first moment.

It is important that children with these difficulties receive the specialized assistance they need to develop their spoken and written language skills, as well as their processing abilities.  This will allow them to have more options in life as adults, preparing them for the 21st century workforce.

Recognizing these difficulties is the first step in getting the necessary services.  Children at the preschool and elementary school levels with language disorders often exhibit one or more of the following behaviors/symptoms at home or at school:
•    Answering questions with minimal responses (“yes,” “no,” or “I don’t know” with no additional information offered)
•    Misinterpretation of oral directions (marked by confusion of sequence or omission of part of the information) or difficulty following written directions
•    Retreating from activities with siblings, peers, or adults that require verbal expression
•    Difficulty saying multi-syllabic words (“renember” as opposed to “remember,” or “atigatal” as opposed to “alligator”)
•    Difficulty with word retrieval (frequent “um” or “uh” pauses, naming errors – chair/couch)
•    Disorganized verbal and written expression of ideas
•    Difficulty with attention and memory

If you suspect that your child may be having language difficulties, consult a speech-language pathologist for a full evaluation.  Recommendations can be made for both direct services to address areas of weakness or classroom suggestions that will facilitate processing and language expression.  Further assessment of any other areas that may also be impacting overall communication functioning and learning can also be made.

Some suggestions for helping your child with his or her language skills are:
•    Gain the child’s attention before speaking.
•    Check child’s comprehension by asking him or her to restate directions or information.
•    Facilitate recall by sequencing directions in order of the actions required.
•    Allow extra time to formulate responses.
•    Provide cues that might elicit the word the child is trying to retrieve (category cues – does it have to do with ocean animals?; associative cues – does it have to do with Abraham Lincoln?; and phonetic cues -  what letter does it begin with?)
•    Encourage the child to describe when unable to name (play guessing games – “I am thinking of something that is a food; it’s red, and it grows on trees.”)
•    Read to - and with - your child often.
•    Correct grammatical errors by repeating the statement back to the child correctly.

Armed with this helpful information, parents can make more informed decisions regarding their child’s speech and language abilities and helping them to reach their highest potential, both academically and socially!

Morton Hospital’s Speech, Hearing and Language Center is an outpatient facility that provides a variety of speech, language and audiology programs and services for patients of all ages in Taunton and surrounding communities.  For more information, please call (508) 823-3050.  


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