Speech & Language Disorders Speech and language disorders, also known as expressive language disorder, means an individual has difficulty in expressing themselves through speech, sign language, writing and/or gestures.  Some children are late in reaching milestones as they develop, but eventually catch up.  Others will always have difficulty in expressing themselves, but that depends upon the type of delay or disorder.  Those with expressive language disorders display below average levels of putting words together to form sentences, using language appropriately, and remembering words. For many children the cause of this disorder is unknown.  Others, however, have a known disorder that has language difficulty as a symptom.  These disorders include, but are not limited to, autism, Down syndrome, and hearing loss. Parents should watch for the following symptoms to determine if their child needs to see a specialist. Using fewer words or sentences than other children of a similar age Frequently having trouble finding the right word Using shorter, simpler words or sentences than other children of a similar age Having a limited vocabulary than other children of a similar age Sounding uncertain when trying to speak Echoing another person’s speech Using non-specific words like “this”, “it” or “thing” Confusing the meaning of common words Using the wrong words in sentences Using limited phrases in speech Talking in circles or being unable to come to the point Stuttering or repeating words while trying to remember the next word in a sentence Inability to retell a favorite story If your child experiences any of these symptoms they need to have their hearing tested and see a speech pathologist for additional testing.  This testing is non-invasive and the parent can be present while it’s done.  Testing for learning disabilities can and should be included.  This type of test should be completed by a registered psychologist.  There are multiple treatment options.  They include individual and/or group sessions with a speech pathologist, school based language assistance programs, assistance from special education teachers and their aides, and home programs where the parent has been taught by the speech pathologist.  While some speech problems require medical intervention, many can be alleviated through effective behavioral interventions and practice.
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