Language

Language is a complex and dynamic system of conventional symbols that is used in various modes for thought, comprehension and communication. A language disorder is an impairment of cognitive, linguistic and expressive communication. The symbol system is disturbed when a language disorder exits. It includes developmental delays in pragmatics, semantics, syntax, morphology, and phonology. All language dependent behaviors are effected-speech, comprehension, reading, writing, expression, problem solving, etc.

Developmental Delay refers to atypical or delayed milestone development.

Expressive Language delay refers to one’s ability to express him/herself in any form of communication including verbal, signed, gestural, expression

Receptive Language delay refers to one’s ability to comprehend language

Language Disorders (persist over time)
Ex. Autism

Syndromes
Ex. Downs Syndrome

Congenital impairments (present at birth)
Ex. Cleft Palate

Treatment

Research has proven that therapy provided in the child’s natural environment is most effective. Using functional therapy ideas has also been shown to be progressive. Using items and routines in a child’s everyday, natural environment promotes functional language and carryover.

Examples:


1.   Dinner time
Have your child help set the table for dinner. Have him count how many people will be eating and set the table accordingly. Tell him that the table needs plates, bowls, forks, knives, spoons, napkins, and glasses. Show him how to set one place setting and have him carry out the task in correct sequential order. Have him identify “who’s plate”, “who’s utensils”, etc. he is setting at that time. This task will help with memory and recall, labeling, sequencing, and counting.

Having your child help empty the dishwasher is a functional task. The child can identify the utensils, sort/match them into the correct category, explain what they are used for and count them.

You can incorporate language learning into any activity. Your child can help make dinner or dessert. If you are making a cake, ask the child what is needed before you begin. Have the child get all of the materials first. Then help him read the directions. Help him measure the water, oil, and/or milk. Have him crack the eggs and pour the mix. Help the child mix the batter and discuss the different textures and colors. Let your child tell YOU what step is next. Once you have completed the task and the cake is finished, reward you child with a slice of his own masterpiece!

2.  Bathtime
A child who does not know his/her body parts can easily learn them during bath time. Sequencing may also be introduced with this activity. Have the child sequence the events for bathing. First you fill the tub with water and bubbles. Then you wash your body, dry off, put pajamas on, etc.

Have the child follow directions for cleaning certain body parts. You can have two different colored wash cloths and ask the child to “use the blue cloth to wash your nose.” This will help improve listening and comprehension skills.

For more complex directions using descriptives, you can ask the child to “use the pink cloth and wash your big toe, and then your nose”, etc.

You can even have the child wash parts on you!

Singing silly songs are always a plus, like “Head, shoulders,
knees and toes”.

3. Singing
Sing songs with your child. Use intonation and various pitches when speaking to your child. Your child will attend if you sound interesting and are having fun.

4. Be Silly
Don’t be afraid to act a little (or a lot) silly with your child. Get down to his level, sing and dance around the room, make silly faces in the mirror together, etc. Everything you do with your child is a language learning experience, so make it fun!

5. READ, READ, READ
Your child is never too young to start enjoying books. Talk about the pictures in the book and the story after you have finished. Ask your child to read to you, even if they can’t read yet. You would be surprised at how much of the story they remember!

Taking the time to allow language learning is the key to successful
development.

Facilitative Play is a highly functional method of interacting with your child.  It involves using the child’s environment and allowing the child to decide what to play with and how to play with it.

Self-Talk and Parallel Talk/Play are also very important for your child to acquire language.

1.   Self Talk refers to your continuous talking about everything around you and everything you are doing without expecting a response in return.

Who cares if you are acting silly? Your child loves it and learns from it. It might take more time during dinner to talk about the food you are eating, but isn’t it worth it? Your child will absorb the vocabulary while learning the simple grammatical and semantic nuances of language.

Example:  There are peas on your plate. You describe the peas as much as you can, as if you were talking to yourself. They are small, green, round, smushy, vegetable, sweet, etc.

2.   When you engage in parallel play, you essentially utilize the same principles as with self talk.  However, you follow the child’s lead in parallel play.

Instead of discussing your own thoughts and actions, you discuss what ever the child is engaged in. This is especially effective for the child with social difficulties because he is not required to respond but is still absorbing all of the language you are providing. The
bonus is that the child is doing what he/she wants to do.

Example:  The child is playing with a car. You say,” Wow, look at your red car. It has four wheels. Now you’re driving it! It has a horn too! I wonder what the horn says.” (this is how you can prompt a language response, but don’t expect it) If the child does not respond, you can say, “I think the horn says ‘ruff ruff’” Children like to be the teacher and like to correct you when you are wrong. (A little reverse phsych). The child might respond by letting you know that you are wrong and hopefully will correct you. If not, continue making other sounds for the horn until you know the child will not participate in the conversation. At this point you can say, “I’m so silly, the horn says ‘beep beep’.”

Carry over

Carry over is  the most difficult level of the therapy process. It is the child’s ability to maintain and transfer the newly acquired skill to other situations, with other people. The skill is not mastered until the child is able to carry over the skills learned.