Specific Language Impairment (SLI)
Specific language impairment is delayed or abnormal language development which occurs for no apparent reason.
What is specific language impairment?
Specific language impairment is defined as delayed or abnormal language development which cannot be accounted for by hearing loss, physical, cognitive or other disorders such as autistic spectrum disorder. A child with specific language impairment will have an average (or above average) IQ and have typical physical development.
A child with specific language impairment will have either delayed or disordered language.
Delayed language is where the child acquires language in the same pattern as their typically developing peers but at a slower rate.
Disordered language is where a child fails to acquire the typical pattern of language development and is severely behind their typically developing peers.
Children with specific language impairment will have a delay or disorder in either their receptive (understanding) or expressive language (verbal and written), or combination of both.
Common difficulties with grammar and use of correct tense often occur in children with specific language impairment.
Specific language impairment is usually first noticed in infancy, where children may be delayed in acquiring first words and have difficulty putting words together to form a sentence.
Specific language impairment may continue to affect the child once entering school where the child may experience difficulties in understanding more complex instructions, and also with their expressive language.
Specific language impairment responds well to speech and language therapy and may resolve with treatment.
What causes specific language impairment?
The exact cause of specific language impairment is unknown. It is thought to be the result of a combination of factors including, brain development, genetic and environmental factors.
What problems caused by specific language impairment can speech and language therapy help with?
Specific language impairment can often impact on many areas of speech and language and responds well to therapy. Speech and language therapy can help improve the following difficulties, which a child with specific language impairment might experience:
- attention and listening problems
- Comprehension problems
- expressive language problems
- speech sound problems
- communication problems
- Language delay and impairment
- Social communication problems
How is specific language impairment diagnosed?
Specific language impairment is diagnosed by the speech and language therapist who will carry out a detailed assessment on the child's speech and language skills. A diagnosis of specific language impairment occurs when a child experiences speech and language difficulty for no apparent reason.
An initial appointment carried out by the speech and language therapist will include the following:
- A conversation with you about your child's language abilities and any concerns you may have.
- A case history of your child's development.
- An observation of your child's play, language and interaction skills.
- A detailed assessment of your child's expressive and receptive language e.g. asking your child to name and describe pictures, retell a story and follow verbal instructions.
- A discussion about the findings of the assessments and whether speech and language therapy input is appropriate.
How does speech and language therapy help children with specific language impairment?
Specific language impairment responds well to speech and language therapy and early intervention is beneficial for a child with specific language impairment. The aims of speech and language therapy will vary for each individual child's specific communication needs.
General aims of speech and language therapy are to improve both expressive and receptive language, vocabulary, grammar and syntax (how we put words and sentences together). This can be done in one to one or group sessions.
Specific language impairment can impact on your child's language abilities in a variety of settings, including the home and school environment and with different people e.g. parents and teachers. Speech and language therapy will help to support your child to communicate to the best of their ability, taking into account all the factors which may affect their communication.
What would speech and language therapy treatment for children with specific language impairment involve?
An initial assessment carried out by the speech and language therapist will help to determine what the best treatment option is for your child. Speech and language therapy after this point may involve:
- One to One Therapy
- Clinic Visits
- Home Visits
- Alternative and Augmentative Communication
- Advice and Education
- early intervention
An initial appointment will also provide a chance for you to share any concerns you may have, and allow you to discuss what you would like to work on and improve for your child in therapy.
How do I arrange a speech and language therapy assessment for specific language impairment?
To arrange an assessment for you and your child with one our speech and language therapists, please call 0330 0885 643.
Specific language impairment occurs when a child has delayed or disordered language which is not the result of other disorders. Specific language impairment may affect a child's ability to communicate effectively in a range of settings including home and at school. Specific language impairment responds well to therapy and early intervention is beneficial. If you feel you and your child may benefit from speech and language therapy then please do not hesitate to email email@example.com or call 0330 0885 643.
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