For now, we don’t have the possibility to offer services for English speaking parents and their children. But, we know there is a growing need to help them out.
Reference document designed for parents with children aged between 0 to 5 years
« My child is three and a half years old, he is like other children. He started walking at the same time as the others,
… he seems unable to speak properly and he understands my gestures more than what I say. »
Diagnosis and prevention
This list of language disorders signs is obviously not complete, it aims to attract your attention on the main signs of language development disorders and it can lead you to early identification of language impairments.
However, we must be aware that the normal language development curve varies depending on each individual, sex and environment.
Some children likely to present development disorders will later get back to normal, but for those whose diagnosis will be confirmed, this identification will ensure early rehabilitation.
If you suspect your child has a language disorder, do not hesitate to consult your doctor or a nurse at your CSSSs (CLSC) for help.
A child may be a source of joy and sense of achievement, but as well a source of worry and questioning. That’s why, as parents, it is essential to carefully follow your child’s evolution.
This reference document for parents, is a guide that could ensure detection of a language development problem with your child. Of course, this involves good observation and the ability to assess the relevance of consulting a doctor.
Signs of language development disorder in children from 0 to 5 years old
Here are some guidelines that, we hope, will help you in evaluating your child’s development.
From birth to 12 months:
Contrary to popular belief, it is possible, with very young children, to detect some gaps that could foreshadow a future language disorder. It is possible to do so by observing the child’s reactions to his/her environment.
- No reaction to surrounding noises.
- Expresses few sounds (gurgling, babbling).
- Doesn’t look, doesn’t smile or smiles very little, lifeless.
- Doesn’t like to be held or cuddled (deficient physical contact).
- A sucking problem could also be an early warning sing.
From 12 to 24 months
At this age, a child starts to develop language and usually learns his first words.
- Obsessed by a sound or a particular toy, pays little attention to other stimuli.
- Limited variety of sounds which he repeats.
- Doesn’t recognize his name and doesn’t pronounce any or very few words, not even Daddy or Mommy.
- Understands very little and doesn’t try to repeat what he hears(echolatia).
- Doesn’t understand simple messages in connection with daily routine.
- Chokes easily with his food.
- Seems to understand what he sees, something concrete.
- Poor visual contact.
From 2 to 2 ½ years
At this age, a child should have acquired about 50 to 100 simple words. Parents must exercise extreme care to the child’s intention to communicate.
- Few intelligible words.
- Uses vowels only, communicates with gestures.
- Understands only the easy words that he hears often : bath, sleep, juice, outside.
- Doesn’t understand multiple-choice questions. E. g. : Do you want to take a bath or go outside ?
- Fascinated or frightened when faced with some hearing stimuli (wind, motor noise), visual stimuli (colours, forms), or tactile stimuli (texture of wet or tough objects).
- Confuses similar sounds (phone ring and door bell).
- Adapts with difficulty to physical environment, people or schedule.
From 2 ½ to 3 years
At this stage, when it’s a matter of a simple speech delay, it’s usually around that age that everything starts to get back to normal. We also noticed that, when very young, girls demonstrate a more precocious language development than boys.
- Doesn’t attempt to associate words with surrounding objects or pictures.
- Still speaks unintelligibly by swallowing the consonants.
- Tries to communicate but not verbally, he uses gestures, as if words are too demanding.
- Facial muscles tenseness often associated with a bad salivary control.
From 3 to 4 years
As a rule, the language knowledge of a three years old child is sounder. His sentences, though still simple, are more precise and better structured.
- Stagnation or serious regression as regards to language.
- Expresses himself with telegraphic sentences, e.g. : Mommy want water.
- Constantly looking for his words.
- Often expresses things that are out of context or that have no connection with the activity he is practising.
- Repeats the question that is being asked instead of answering it.
From 4 to 5 years
- Hops from one subject to another, expresses himself in a disjointed way.
- Experiences difficulty in making distinction between prepositions related to orientation in space (e.g. : on, in, under, etc.) and in naming and recognising colours.
- Has difficulty answering open-ended questions if answers are not provided.
From 5 to 6 years
- Experiences difficulty in grasping abstract concepts, (prepositions, adverbs) especially those related to time (length, chronological order).
- Have difficulty understanding dual instructions. E.g. : « Take your coat off and put it away in the closet ».
- Seems to understand the subject of the question well but doesn’t answer properly. E.g. : Question : Where is the cat ? Answer : The cat is black.
- Seems to learn better by watching what other people do than by following verbal instructions.
This document was conceived by Diane Bleau, student attending university of Montreal in health community services certificate, November, 1998.