Your child or adolescent’s language difficulties can present in many different ways, such as having trouble finding the correct word to name an object (e.g. naming a “candle” a “lamp”), to having difficulty understanding the directions that have been given (e.g. “get the piece of paper on the bottom shelf”), to having trouble using certain grammatical forms (e.g. he will go fishing this weekend). Later in your child’s development, it is common to see language difficulties present themselves in both reading and writing, where your child might have difficulty understanding stories, and narrative texts, have difficulty formulating sentences or following along with the classroom discussion.  Your child might encounter challenges in interacting with their friends and their peers because they are having a difficult time following the conversation due to the words and/or complex sentences used.  


You will notice your child having difficulty with the following if they are having difficulty understanding language, known as a Receptive Language Delay/Disorder:

  • Difficulty understanding directions, especially longer more complex directions

  • Difficulty understanding questions

  • Difficulty understanding complex sentences that include descriptive words (e.g. the spotted cat jumped over the fence)

  • Difficulties understanding different concepts (e.g. under, first, hot, fast, etc.)

  • Difficulty understanding what has been read


You will notice your child having difficulty with the following if they are having difficulty with the use of spoken language, known as Expressive Language Delay/Disorder:

  • Difficulty naming objects or pictures

  • Difficulty re-telling a story or past events

  • Difficulty putting words together to form a grammatical sentence

  • Difficulty with use of certain grammatical forms (e.g. your child says “me going outside” vs. “I am going outside”

  • Difficulty repeating a phrase back to you

  • Difficulty with word knowledge (e.g. knowing that certain words or objects belong to a category, understanding similarities and differences among words, etc.)


Sometimes we see children have difficulties in both understanding and use of spoken language, and other times your child understands language, but they are struggling to express their thoughts and feelings to others.


What does an assessment look like?

  • A language assessment includes both standardized and non-standardized assessments where your child will be asked to point to pictures in a book and answer questions/finish sentences related to pictures in a book.

  • Gathering of a language sample by the SLP during either play based or naturally occurring conversation.

  • Reading and written language assessments, where your child will be asked to answer questions verbally or in written form in relation to a reading passage.

  • Detailed case history, including family history of speech and language concerns


What does therapy look like?

Speech therapy for your child focuses on goals that address your concerns as a parent as well as the observations and results of the assessment(s) conducted by the Speech-Language Pathologist. The most important piece of therapy is making sure that your child is interested, engaged and having fun! It is also essential that speech therapy includes you as parents, because after all you know your child best! As a speech therapist who has worked with children and their families for over 10 years at our local children’s treatment center, I have seen the importance of parent involvement in therapy sessions as well as the involvement of community partners  (i.e. resource teachers) in order for carry over of goals into your child’s everyday life. Therefore when possible, speech therapy will also include you as a parent: either through observation of the therapy techniques and strategies, participation in the activity and/or games or through direct parent coaching.