When children or teenagers present for a psychoeducational assessment, sometimes it is discovered that they are suffering from learning difficulties known as a Language Disorder.
A Language Disorder often affects a child’s ability to use words to convey what they want to say. in other words, your child may have trouble processing and understanding the meaning of what other people say. It is acknowledged that 5 to 6% of school-aged children suffer from either a speech or language problem though this can vary considerably depending upon the region.
If your child has a Language Disorder they may have difficulty following instructions or have short-term (auditory) memory problems and/or have a reluctance to ask questions. They may also be reluctant to contribute to classroom discussions.
In the classroom, academically, your child may struggle with reading rate or have difficulty understanding what is meant in the paragraph they just read. This would be because children with a Language Disorder have a reduced word knowledge and understanding of how the words are used. It makes sense that if there are some words within a sentence that your child does not understand, it will be difficult for them to fully appreciate the underlying message within the text.
I have also often had parents who are concerned with their child’s behaviour which may in fact relate to them having a Language Disorder. For instance, your child may have poor organisational skills and concentration or attention span. The teachers have often advised that the child has difficulty following verbal instructions and appears to fail to listen when spoken to.
While all these symptoms are related to having a Language Disorder, parents often attend for psychologist session for alternative concerns such as attention deficit disorder, dyslexia or intellectual disability, since some of the symptoms present in a Language Disorder—such as slow reading rate—could present in dyslexia or intellectual disability. Children who have attentional or organisational problems may be suffering from attention deficit disorder.
If you believe that your child may be suffering from any of the symptoms described, it is recommended that a multi-disciplinary approach be taken. A Language Disorder is normally diagnosed by a Speech Pathologist in combination with a psychoeducational assessment completed by a psychologist.
A psychoeducational assessment by a psychologist can assist in eliminating other causes for your child’s academic difficulties such as dyslexia, intellectual disability or attention deficit disorder. A multi-disciplinary approach will assist you in achieving the most effective therapy for your child.