Language development follows a predictable pattern and timeline. Children who have difficulty expanding their vocabulary, speaking in grammatically correct sentences, or using language in socially appropriate ways, may have difficulty developing positive peer relationships and self-confidence for academic success.
The development of speech begins in infancy at an awe-inspiring rate through the preschool years. When a child is 2 years old, he should be able to say 200 words and/or make two-word combinations. By the time children are 4 years old they should be speaking in sentences and understandable approximately 90% of the time. Speech articulation problems can occur at the sound level (e.g. “mmm”); syllable level (e.g. “baba”); word, phrase, and sentence levels.
Social skills & Pragmatics problems
The pragmatic use of language is how we behave socially and how we use language for communication with others. Difficulties with these skills can include misinterpretation of humour, irony, and sarcasm; disruptive social behaviour that is perceived as “rude” or immature for one’s age; and difficulty entering, participating, and ending conversations or play comfortably.
Reading development is key for school success. Reading success is measured by the ability to: read accurately and smoothly aloud; understand what has been read; accurately explain and describe what has been read; read efficiently with relative ease. Reading difficulties can include any one or all of the above areas and should receive serious attention if children are struggling or exhibiting frustration.
A language disorder that varies from mild to severe and results from damage to the brain (e.g. stroke or brain injury). Aphasia may affect speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Challenges may include difficulties understanding others, using words and sentences, reading books and writing personal information.
Apraxia of Speech
A motor speech disorder that can be developmental in childhood, or, acquired following a brain injury or stroke. Difficulties are seen in the coordination of sounds, syllables, and words, in the absence of any muscle weakness. General signs to look for in childhood include (but not limited to) no cooing or babbling as an infant, only a few different sounds are produced, difficulty imitating speech and speech sounds, and able to understand language much better than speak it.
Autistic Spectrum Disorder
A pervasive developmental disorder ranging from mild to severe that affects all areas of development, especially social communication. Difficulties may include poor understanding for simple instructions, limited to no speech, challenges adapting to the environment, problems making friends, poor play skills, and repetitive behaviours that interfere with learning.
A speech disorder that affects the fluency or “smoothness” of speech. Symptoms may include sound repetitions (e.g. a-a-apple), syllable repetitions (e.g. go-go-going), sound prolongations (e.g. ssssstart), or blocks (i.e. periods of silence at the beginning or in the middle of words). Many young children go through a short period of developmental stuttering that they outgrow independently. It is difficult to predict which children will not outgrow their stuttering, but important factors during assessment include family history of stuttering, stuttering that lasts for more than 6 months, high levels of concern or anxiety on behalf of the child or family, and the presence of other speech and language difficulties.