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‘Language’ refers to the comprehension of what is said (receptive language), the expression of ideas (expressive language), and the way we communicate our ideas (pragmatics or social interaction).

A child with a language impairment will often have a difficulty in one or more of these areas. Their language impairment will often be described with respect to their language skills as being delayed or disordered.

Language impairment is more likely to be present if your child...

  • is male

  • had an adverse medical history

  • eg prematurity, low birth weight, small for dates, failure to thrive, chromosome abnormalities, congenital abnormalities 

  • had significant early feeding difficulties

  • has suffered middle ear infections

  • has a hearing impairment,

  • has a family history of language impairment

  • has had family experiences with a high degree of stress/trauma

  • presents with behavioural difficulties

  • has a diagnosis of autism or developmental delay


Symptoms of language impairment:

  • Your child appears frustrated by his difficulty in communicating.

  • Parents express concern regarding the child’s language skills

  • Your child has difficulty understanding the speech of others.

  • Your child has difficulty following instructions or appears to forget an instruction.

  • Your child’s sentences appear short or incomplete.

  • Your child has a limited vocabulary or range of words.

  • Your child does not use grammar properly in their sentences.

  • Your child uses language inappropriately in different contexts.

  • Your child doesn’t engage, play or communicate well with his peers.

  • Your child appears withdrawn and unable/unwilling to communicate with others on a consistent basis

  • Your child shows signs of learning disability and language dysfunction


See Speech and language checklists for more information


Our speech pathologists will discuss your child’s birth, hearing, medical, family and developmental history to understand your child fully and then assess your child through play, and informal and formal assessment tests to determine whether your child’s language is developing appropriately for their age compared to other children of the same age.

The speech pathologist will assess the child’s comprehension (ie. understanding) of language, and expressive language ( ie. gestures, eye contact, social interaction, types of words and sentences used and emerging grammar).

When assessing and managing children with a language impairment, the speech pathologist will take into consideration the family structure, language experiences, cultural diversity and languages spoken at home and how these interplay with the child’s language development.  

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