All things are linked
Link between Language and Learning
There is a distinct link between language and learning. In fact, language difficulties are commonly the reason behind communication and academic studies failure. Many children who have come through the centre have been diagnosed by psychologists as having normal to higher than average IQ level but do not do well in school as a result of language impairment.
For those with language impairment, when this is undiagnosed and untreated, it is inevitable that learning and thinking become affected. It is common for example, for a child with specific language impairment to behave in a more immature way than their peers. They may choose toys or cartoon shows that are preferred by younger children. They may also choose to interact with children who are much younger than themselves. Ultimately, language affects learning and thinking.
Language disorders seldom surface only when the child is six, seven or much order. Often the early signs have been there, such as slow development of speech and language and delayed milestones. It is wise to treat language disorder early so the rest of the child’s development moves forward.
Link between Spoken and Written Language
Spoken language precedes written language, which is why it is important that SLPs work on spoken language first in a child. In fact our therapists discourage reading cards or flash cards with spelling words for a young child who has not learned talking. We also think spoken language should come before reading, which is why we emphasize speaking and interacting with the child in a story book activity instead of direct reading. Reading can be introduced later when the child already has a good grasp of language or is developing language appropriately.
Link between Language and Communication
When a child’s language is disordered, it would inevitably affect their communication. The maxims of discourse (conversation) include, the quantity (how much you say), the quality (what you say), manner (how you say it) and relation (is it appropriate and related). A language delayed child, say who has specific language impairment, may not do well in the quantity and quality, whilst a child who is on the autism spectrum disorder may not do well in all these areas. Because communication is essential for our quality of life, we need to look at language development seriously in that regard.
Link between Speech and Spelling
A phonological system is a like a sound dictionary system in the child. If the child has a condition called phonological disorder – which is the mixing up of different speech sounds (i.e. saying “sue” instead of “shoe”), and this is not corrected, he may run the risk of developing difficulty in mapping correct sounds to different letters. This is why it is important for us speech language therapists to look at the age of a child we are treating for phonological disorders and recommend a follow through programme for mapping letter sound awareness after some time of speech therapy. We are seeing some children with overlapping difficulties.
Teenagers with Language Disorders
The brain continues to rewire itself throughout one’s lifetime, so it is never too late for the teenager with speech and language disorders to seek help. Treatment can sometimes be more complex because of the different areas that are affected by language difficulties. A student’s communication abilities, self esteem, along with thinking and problem solving skills are often implicated. We need to work on a wider range of areas, at the same time, there is that need to convey to the parents this need in order to align their expectations with ours. Parents are encouraged to be thinking of remediation as repairing communication, thinking skills, and problem solving skills in the longer haul – not just the immediacy of passing an exam.