Language is the way we communicate with each other in spoken and/or written (reading and writing) forms. It may also be receptive (understanding) and/or expressive (talking, reading, writing, or signing).
Language disorders occur when a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings (expressive language). Language disorders may be spoken or written and may involve the form (phonology, morphology, syntax), content (semantics), and/or use (pragmatics) of language in functional and socially appropriate ways. Here are some examples of the different areas of language that might be difficult for some children:
Social communication disorder has recently been added as a diagnosis to help capture the difficulties a person experiences that has significant trouble with the social use of verbal (pragmatic language) and nonverbal communication. These disorders may include problems (a) communicating for social purposes (e.g., greeting, commenting, asking questions), (b) talking in different ways to suit the listener and setting, and (c) following rules for conversation and story-telling. All individuals with autism spectrum disorder have social communication problems. Social communication disorders are also found individuals with other conditions, such as traumatic brain injury.
Cognitive-communication disorders include problems organizing thoughts, paying attention, remembering, planning, and/or problem-solving. This is also sometimes called executive functioning and is required in everyday life and within the classroom. Children with ADD/ADHD for example, who did not exhibit language disorders or cognitive delays, may still demonstrate difficulty communicating effectively in spoken or written forms.
Low tech (e.g., picture communication symbols, Core boards etc.) or high tech (dynamic display devices or programs) may help individuals with limited to no verbal communication. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) can be used as a bridge to verbal communication, a visual prompt or serve as a child’s voice depending on the needs of a child. The research has shown that use of AAC for children who have a significant gap between their verbal abilities and what they understand increases verbal utterances and often decreases negative behaviors that can be a result of frustration.
A child does not get a language disorder from learning a second language. It won't confuse your child to speak more than one language in the home. Speak to your child in the language that you know best. Children with language disorders will have problems with both language.
A child that is exposed to more than one language may require testing with a bilingual SLP or have an interpreter present for testing.