language delay Fort Myers

Four Things to Know About Developmental Language Delay in Kids

Some kids are “language late bloomers.” A percentage will catch up to children their same age on their own. Others, however, will continue to struggle with language learning. We call this a developmental language delay. If these difficulties persist beyond the earlier stages of development (past the age of 5), it can significantly impact their reading, writing, math, reasoning, and social skills later on.

Kids whose language troubles can’t be explained by some other cause (such as a disability, syndrome or physical impediment) and continue until they’re in school are typically diagnosed with Developmental Language Disorder.

Some indications of a language delay may include:

  • Not babbling by 15 months.
  • Not speaking by the age of 2.
  • Inability to speak in short sentences by the age of 3.
  • Trouble following directions.
  • Difficulty putting words together in a sentence.
  • Leaving words out of sentences.

If you suspect your child may be struggling with language comprehension or expression, you do not need to wait until they are school age to have it addressed. In fact, you should have it assessed and treated much sooner, if possible. As noted by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), early intervention (before age 5 and preferably before age 3) can have a substantial impact on the long-term implications of a speech-language disorder or developmental language disorder.

Our early intervention speech therapy team at FOCUS Therapy can help your child struggling with language skills to catch up to their same-age peers, specifically targeting skills like:

  • Cognitive thinking (problem-solving, thinking, learning).
  • Communication (listening, talking, understanding, gesturing).
  • Physical/sensory skills (seeing, hearing, crawling, walking, climbing).
  • Social-emotional skills (playing, understanding feelings, making friends).
  • Adaptive/self-help skills (eating, drinking, bathing, dressing, etc.).

If you think your child may need some extra help in the area of language development, here are four things to know:

  • Developmental language disorder has had many different names. Over the years, it’s been referred to as language impairment, language learning impairment, language disorder, language delay, and specific language impairment. These names have evolved and expanded and branched out as we’ve come to learn more about pediatric language development, but our Ft. Myers speech therapists definitely understand why it’s so confusing for parents when there have been so many names to essentially describe the same thing. Several years ago, speech-language experts agreed that settling on one term for language difficulties that persist beyond early childhood, and they decided on Developmental Language Disorder.
  • Kids with developmental language disorder might not have any trouble with pronunciation. Language refers to our understanding and use of a wide variety of words, grammar, grasping instruction, telling stories, etc. This is different than a child who has a speech delay. Speech delays deal with expression of words, which can include formation and pronunciation of words. Some kids with developmental language disorder do have both difficulties, but know that pronunciation isn’t necessarily a language skill.
  • Issues with pediatric language development are more common than you might think. An estimated 7 percent of kids have developmental language disorder. To put that into perspective, in a class of 30 kids, it’s possible two of them are going to have difficulty with language skills. In fact, developmental language disorder is 7 times more common than autism and 45 times more common than pediatric hearing impairments. However, it too often goes unidentified. Once again, the sooner your child is referred, the sooner they can be diagnosed, the faster they will get treatment, and the less difficulty they’re going to have catching up to kids their same age. This is why if you have any inkling at all that your child may be struggling with a language delay or disorder, you should promptly seek a referral for speech therapy evaluation.
  • The sooner kids are treated for developmental language disorder, the better their long-term outcomes. Early intervention is critical for kids with any kind of developmental delay. Our Ft. Myers speech-language pathologists have two different clinics to better serve the SWFL community, and we work closely with parents to develop a plan for how best to improve your child’s language skills. Active parent involvement and follow-through can make a big difference in how fast your child retains the skills we’re teaching.

If you’re concerned about your child’s language development, the very best thing you can do is ask to meet with your child’s pediatrician for a referral to a speech-language pathologist for a thorough evaluation.

FOCUS offers pediatric speech therapy at two clinics in Fort Myers. We also offer virtual speech therapy and virtual occupational therapy offered to kids throughout the state of Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

Developmental Language Disorders, 2017, Swaiman’s Pediatric Neurology (Sixth Edition)

More Blog Entries:

Why Early Intervention Speech Therapy is SO Important if Your Child is Delayed, Oct. 19, 2021, Fort Myers Speech Therapy Blog

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