A couple of weeks ago, my colleague Lisa Gadsby and I gave a talk at the L’École du Parc nursery school in Clapham on supporting bilingual and multilingual children. More than half the children at L’École du Parc are bilingual, speaking both French and English, and the nursery has some families where as many as four different languages are spoken at home.
The nursery’s parents’ association wanted us to advise on the nature of bilingual development, how it differs from monolingual development and how best to approach teaching children two languages at once. In the talk we explained some of the signs indicating developmental problems to look out for, and advised on which issues should resolve on their own. The talk was aimed at parents, but the teachers who attended also found it very useful.
What is Expressive Language Disorder?
Expressive language is how a person expresses their feelings and ideas. Expressive language disorder is characterised by a child having difficulty expressing him- or herself using speech or writing.
Children with expressive language disorder do not have problems pronouncing certain sounds or words, as with a phonological speech disorder (discussed in a previous blog post), in fact they will tend to be within the normal range for correct speech sounds. The problem is with putting sentences together, finding and using the right words, and the use of grammar.
Normal Developmental Errors
If your child struggles with certain speech sounds, it may reassure you to know that most children do not develop their entire speech repertoire until they are approximately seven years old. All of them will pass through what speech and language therapists call developmental ‘errors’ at various stages, for example saying ‘wed’ instead of ‘red’ and ‘tat’ instead of ‘cat.’ Many parents are unsure whether these errors are part of normal speech development, and when there is cause for concern. If you’re worried, check out our When to Refer Guide, showing the common difficulties for each age group that might indicate a problem. Some children present with speech sound difficulties that are not part of typical development, and speech therapy is normally necessary to resolve these.
Many parents give their babies and young children dummies to help them get to sleep and to comfort them. Babies have a strong sucking reflex and some research has shown that the use of dummies can help very young babies establish good sucking patterns. However, there are concerns about the long-term use of dummies, particularly on children’s speech and language development.
Parents share tips on supporting children with language difficulties, with some good ideas for helping your child if they have difficulties understanding you. From the RALLI (Raising Awareness of Language Learning Impairments) campaign.
The following post is taken from an article for Families South West Magazine's November 2012 issue, written by Marianne Brown...
Speech and Language Development – when to seek help
As a parent it’s often difficult to know when a child’s development falls within the ‘normal’ range and when there is cause for concern. Just like learning to walk or to use a potty, children develop the ability to communicate at different speeds, and some children will encounter difficulties along the way.
Many parents seek speech therapy for correcting a lisp as it can sound a bit inappropriate, especially in older school-age children. As children develop their speech sounds, they progress through a certain number of speech processes. These are what we term ‘normal errors’ and we expect them to resolve naturally by certain ages.
A lisp is not a ‘typical’ speech error. It does not usually make a child’s speech harder to understand and will normally resolve naturally in the early years, but it is not possible to know for certain if this will be the case.
I recently came across this excellent PDF on the mommyspeechtherapy.com website which nicely describes the process for articulation therapy – the way we speech therapists help children to articulate sounds they are having problems with. Do read this if you are practicing speech therapy at home as it explains the process very well and provides practical instructions. Check out the website for more of Heidi’s useful tips and articles. We’re big fans of her Articulation Station speech therapy App here at Children’s Therapies.