Language skills – expressive and receptive language
What is expressive language?
The ability to share thoughts, wants, needs, feelings and ideas with others through words, phrases and sentences. Expressive language skills can be in the form of talking, sign language, writing, gestures, facial expression or alternative communication.
What is receptive language?
The ability to understand what is being communicated by others including understanding the meaning of words, following simple and complex sentences and classroom directions: with or without the aid of gestures and environmental clues.
How do language skills develop?
Children vary in their develop of language skills , however they do follow a natural progression over time. Children learn to communicate with others through everyday interactions and play with their family, early educators and carers and their peers.
Difficulties with language development is different for every child.
What causes language difficulties?
There is no one known cause of language difficulties but some studies suggest there are some risk factors such as:
- Chronic ear infections and hearing difficulties
- Genetic factors
- Socio-economic status2
- Difficulties in pregnancy
- Oral-motor difficulties1
- Part of a primary condition such as autism, genetic disorders, general developmental difficulties, neurological impairment1
- Lack of early exposure to communication with other people2
Is my child's language development delayed?
This is a common question asked by many parents. There is a lot of conflicting information out there about language development and what is normal. You may find your doctor is not concerned, but your kinder teacher is, and family members advise you to “wait and see”. All this advise can be confusing, frustrating, isolating, and make it hard to decide whether to see a Speech Pathologist or not.
There are however some red flags to consider:
|Age||Receptive language (understanding)||Expressive language (talking and gesturing)|
When to see a Speech Pathologist?
Late talking is often concerning for parents and caregivers, and is easily treatable. Unfortunately, many parents and caregivers are encouraged by others to follow outdated advice such as “just wait and see”; “she will grow out of it”; “my youngest was a later talker and is ok now”; “he will suddenly start talking all at once” . The evidence however is overwhelming and shows that early intervention is one of the most efficacious types of treatment available and assists with better outcomes for your child. Reasons you should have your late talker evaluated include:
- Early intervention is effective in treating and even preventing later difficulties such as speech and language disorders, reading delays, social-emotional delays
- Late talking can be a sign of more complex underlying disorders including neurological, cognitive, motor impairment
- Neuroplasticity supports early intervention as they are more flexible/plastic int eh early years of life, meaning it is easier to change the neural pathways in the brain to develop better language skills
- Can reduce frustration in a child who can’t get their message understood
- Law J, Garrett Z, Nye C. Speech and language therapy interventions for children with primary speech and language delay or disorder. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2003, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD004110. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004110
- Kuhl PK. Learning and representation in speech and language. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1994 Dec; 4(6): 812–822
- Yeung HH, Werker JF. Learning words’ sounds before learning how words sound: 9-month-olds use distinct objects as cues to categorize speech information. Cognition. 2009 Nov; 113(2): 234–243
- Speech Pathology Australia Communication Milestones