Afasic Cymru

Supporting parents with children who have difficulties talking and understanding.

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Speech and language development

Talking and understanding

Afasic CymruWhen children are very young it can be difficult to be sure which type of problem they have as children with SLI are often as able as their peers in all other ways except they have real difficulty with talking and or understanding language. SLI looks different in all children and every child is unique – we do not know the cause except that the speech and language part of the brain does not develop as it should.

As a child learns to talk they need to:

  • Learn to understand words, sentences and conversations (often referred to as receptive language)
  • Learn to talk using words and sentences (often referred to as expressive language)
  • Know how to use language socially e.g. turn taking – listening as well as talking
  • Speech sounds – so they can be understood by others

Helping your child

A child with SLI does not develop the ability to do these in the right way and they may have difficulty in one or more of these areas and will need to be taught language in a specific way. If you have concerns about your child’s speech and language, whatever their age, you can self refer to speech and language therapy services.

If your child has difficulty understanding language – which may be obvious to you if they make a slow or no response to someone speaking to them, try repeating the instruction in small simple chunks and it really helps if you always use their name when you want them to respond.

If your child has difficulty with talking – encourage them to communicate in any way, actions and gestures will help to develop words. If your child can use words but puts them in wrong order e.g. “cat him sleeping” instead of correcting just repeat back “Yes the cat is sleeping”.

Professor Dorothy Bishop discusses the relationship between late-talkers, late bloomers, and specific language impairment. (Video courtesy of the RALLI campaign.)