Cleveland Pediatric Speech Therapists Detail Top Language Delay Causes
As experienced Cleveland pediatric speech therapists, a significant number of our patients are children with language delays. Here, we discuss some of the root causes of language delays among children, and also how we treat them.
To start, it’s important to understand the difference between speech and language – and the different types of language.
- Speech: The sound of spoken language, including the formation of sounds, the nature of the sound quality, and the rhythm and flow of those sounds. It involves physical and mental coordination of the brain, lungs, nerves, throat, neck muscles, vocal cords, soft palates, teeth, and tongue.
- Language: This is the method humans use to communicate to each other. It can be spoken (verbal), or involve signs, signals, gestures, facial expressions, or written.
One easy way to think of it is that speech is what comes out of your mouth, and language is a process that happens in our heads. To be clear, speech & language are certainly interrelated and correlated, they are NOT the exact same thing. Sometimes kids have both speech and language delays or disorders. Sometimes it’s one or the other. This is why the formal title for our Cleveland pediatric speech therapists is “speech-language pathologists” or SLP’s for short. We are trained to treat both pathologies.
As for there different kinds of language, this can get pretty detailed, but let’s keep it simple: Receptive and expressive.
- Receptive language: How a person understands the language that is being communicated to them.
- Expressive language: How a person uses words to express themselves.
There’s also a difference when we’re talking about disorders versus delays. A language delay is when a child’s skills are acquired in the typical sequence, but they are behind their peers. A language disorder, on the other hand, is atypical development of language that significantly disrupts communication across all settings.
While language disorders can be somewhat more complex, it’s recommended that both be treated with early intervention speech-language therapy when possible. Language delays can lead to frustration, behavior challenges, difficulty connecting socially, and late reading/writing. All of this can have a snowball effect on the development of other key skills – and, in the long-term, academics. So the earlier our Cleveland pediatric speech therapists can treat a language delay – the better!
What Underlies Language Delays?
Pediatric language delays can have various causes. It’s not always critical to identify the underlying factors to determine the appropriate treatment approach, but it can be insightful to know so that our Cleveland pediatric speech therapists can implement the best evidence-based strategies for your child’s condition.
Some common causes of pediatric language delays – and possible treatment options – include:
- Developmental Delays: Some children may experience delays in their overall development, including language skills. In such cases, early intervention programs that focus on speech and language therapy can help. SLPs often work with children to improve their communication skills through play-based activities, exercises, and targeted interventions.
- Hearing Loss: Hearing impairment can significantly impact a child’s language development. Treating hearing loss with appropriate interventions, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants, can improve the child’s ability to perceive and produce speech. Alongside audiological support, speech therapy may be beneficial in enhancing language skills.
- Intellectual Disabilities: Children with intellectual disabilities may have challenges in language acquisition. Specialized educational programs and therapies, such as individualized education plans (IEPs) and behavioral interventions, can assist in supporting their language development. Collaborating with a team of professionals, including SLPs, psychologists, and educators, can provide comprehensive support.
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Language delays are common in children with ASD. Treatment often includes a multi-disciplinary early intervention approach. In addition to speech-language therapy, your child’s pediatric specialist will likely recommend Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which emphasizes behavior modification and structured teaching methods, can aid in enhancing communication and language skills for kids with autism. Other interventions, such as occupational therapy, can also be highly beneficial. At Therapy & Wellness Connection in Brecksville, we offer all three under the same roof – or at your home.
- Specific Language Impairment (SLI): SLI refers to a primary language delay that is not associated with other developmental issues. SLPs play a crucial role in diagnosing and treating SLI. They may use language-focused interventions, individual or group therapy, and strategies tailored to the child’s specific needs to promote language development.
- Bilingualism: Some bilingual children may exhibit temporary language delays due to the dual language exposure. This is NOT a disorder, but it’s possible the child might need extra supports to encourage language development in both languages. Consulting with bilingual SLPs can help in distinguishing between typical bilingual language development and potential language disorders.
- Environmental Factors: Environmental factors, such as limited exposure to language-rich environments or neglect, can contribute to language delays. Addressing these issues involves creating a stimulating language environment, promoting interactive activities, and encouraging communication with caregivers, teachers, and peers.
It’s crucial to consult with healthcare professionals – particularly speech-language pathologists and pediatricians – to red flag language delays and develop an individualized treatment plan tailored to the child’s needs. Early intervention and consistent support are key to maximizing language development in children with language delays.
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
Language Disorders in Children, Stanford Medicine Children’s Health
More Blog Entries:
Speech Milestones for 18-Month-Olds – From Akron Speech Therapists, May 1, 2023, Cleveland Pediatric Speech Therapists Blog