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Speech Language Disabilities - Recent Developments

  • Synopsis: Published: 2013-09-09 - Information regarding speech-language disabilities including Dyslexia, articulation, and executive functioning abilities. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Disabled World.

Definition: Executive Functioning

A set of mental processes that helps connect past experience with present action. People use it to perform activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing, paying attention to and remembering details, and managing time and space. It is an umbrella term for the neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation.
www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/executive-function-disorders/what-is-executive-function

Main Document

"An SLP evaluates spoken and written language for children who have been identified by their parents and teachers as experiencing difficulties."

Learning disabilities that are language-based involve issues with age-appropriate spelling, reading, and/or writing. The disabilities do not concern a person's intelligence. The majority of people who are diagnosed with learning disabilities have average to superior intelligence.

The term, 'Dyslexia,' has been used to refer to a specific learning issue related to reading. The term, 'language-based learning disability,' or simply, 'learning disabilities,' is better because of the relationship between written and spoken forms of language. A number of children with reading issues have spoken language issues as well.

A child with dyslexia has difficulties almost entirely with written or printed words. Children with dyslexia as a portion of a larger language-based learning disability have trouble with both written and spoken words. The issues might include a number of different things such as:

  • Spelling
  • Telling time
  • Telling left from right
  • Letters and numbers
  • Learning the alphabet
  • Learning new vocabulary
  • Recalling numbers in sequence
  • Memorizing the multiplication tables
  • Reading and comprehending materials
  • Learning the words to rhymes and songs
  • Identifying sounds that correspond to letters
  • Mixing up the order of letters in words as they write
  • Mixing up the order of numbers that are a part of math calculations
  • Understanding questions and following directions that are read and/or heard
  • Understanding and retaining the details of a story's plot or a classroom lecture

Chart showing speech-language disability issues
Chart showing speech-language disability issues
Children with speech-language disabilities may experience difficulties with expressing ideas clearly. They may feel as if the words they need are on the tip of their tongue yet will not come out. What the child says may be vague or hard to understand and they might use unspecific words such as, 'stuff,' or, 'thing,' to replace words they are unable to remember. They may use fillers such as, 'um,' to take up time as they attempt to remember a word.

Diagnosing a Speech-language Disability

A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) is a part of a team consisting of parents and caregivers, educational professionals, and a psychologist. An SLP evaluates spoken and written language for children who have been identified by their parents and teachers as experiencing difficulties. For children who are in preschool, an SLP may do any or all of a number of things.

An SLP may gather information regarding the literacy experiences in a child's home. For example; an SLP may want to know if there are books and other reading materials in the child's home, how often the child sees family members reading, writing letters or notes, and how often family members read to the child. An SLP might observe the child during their classroom activities, evaluate the child's ability to understand written and verbal directions and to pay attention to written information in daily plans and on the blackboard.

An SLP may observe a child's awareness of printed materials, watch to find out if they recognize familiar logos and signs, and to see if they hold a book properly and turn the pages. An SLP may determine if a child recognizes and writes their own name, evaluate whether or not they demonstrate, 'pretend,' writing and see if they recognize or write letters. An SLP may also have a child clap or tap out the different syllables in words and evaluate if they can tell whether two words rhyme, or provide a list of words that rhyme with a specific word. For children who are older than preschool age, an SLP may:

  • Observe whether or not the child can read and understand information in textbooks and handouts
  • Assess a child's phonological awareness skills
  • Have a child put together sounds and syllables to make a word
  • Find out if a child can break a word into its sounds and syllables
  • Assess an older child's phonological memory by having them repeat strings of numbers, words, letters and sounds

An SLP will provide every child with a complete language evaluation and look at their articulation and executive functioning abilities. 'Executive functioning,' is the ability to plan, organize, as well as attend to details. An SLP will examine whether or not a child has the ability to plan and organize their writing, and if they are able to keep track of school materials and assignments.

Treatment of Speech-language Disabilities

The goals of speech-language treatment for children with reading issues target the specific aspects of reading and writing the child is missing. As an example, if the child has the ability to read words, yet does not have the ability to understand the details of what they have read, comprehension is addressed. If a younger child has difficulties with distinguishing the different sound that make up words, their treatment focuses on activities which support skills in this area such as rhyming, tapping out syllables and so forth.

Programs are individualized to the specific child and always relate to the work they are doing in school. Due to this, materials for the child's treatment are taken from or are related to content from their classes. Children with speech-language disabilities are taught to apply newly learned language strategies to classroom activities and their assignments. An SLP, in order to best help a child, may work alongside them in their classroom.

Chart showing methods of treating speech-language disabilities
Chart showing methods of treating speech-language disabilities
Assistance with spoken language or, 'speaking and listening,' may also be designed to support the development of written language skills. For example, after a child listens to a story, they might be asked to state and write answers to questions. The child may be asked to provide a verbal and then a written summary of the story. Pronunciation or, 'articulation,' needs are treated in a way which supports written language. For example, if a child is practicing saying words to improve their pronunciation of a specific sound, they might be asked to read the words from a printed list.

An SLP consults and collaborates with teachers to create strategies and techniques in the classroom. For example, an SLP might assist a teacher with modification of how new materials are presented in lessons in order to accommodate a child's comprehension needs. An SLP might also demonstrate what planning strategies a child uses to both organize and focus on written assignments.

Speech-language disabilities should be addressed as early in a child's life as possible. A number of children with learning disabilities who are treated later after their language demands become greater experience lowered self-esteem caused by prior academic frustrations and failures. Learning issues that remain untreated may lead to a significant decrease in a child's level of confidence, a desire to avoid going to school, not wanting to do homework, or even depression.

Recent Developments Related to Speech-Language Disabilities

Very recently, USC scientists discovered a population of neurons in the brains of young songbirds that are needed for allowing the birds to recognize the vocal sound they are learning to imitate. The neurons encode a memory of learned vocal sounds and form a crucial portion of the neural system that allow the birds to hear, imitate, and learn songs - in the same way human infants acquire speech sounds. The discovery will allow scientists to uncover the exact neural mechanisms that allow songbirds to hear their own self-produced songs, compare them to their memory of that song they are attempting to imitate, and adjust their vocalizations.

The brain-behavior system is thought to be a model for how human infants learn to talk and understanding it might provide critical understanding and the ability to treat language disorders in children. In both songbirds and people, feedback of self-produced vocalizations is compared to memorized vocal sounds which are progressively refined in order to achieve correct imitations. According to Sarah Bottjer, author of an article on the research in Journal of Neuroscience, "Every neuro-developmental disorder you can think of - including Tourette syndrome, autism, and Rett syndrome - entails in some way a breakdown in auditory processing and vocal communication. Understanding mechanisms of vocal learning at a cellular level is a huge step toward being able to someday address the biological issues behind the behavioral issues."

Resources and Citations:

Discovery helps to unlock brain's speech-learning mechanism
medicalxpress.com/news/2013-09-discovery-brain-speech-learning-mechanism.html

"The process of learning speech requires the brain to compare feedback of current vocal behavior to a memory of target vocal sounds," Achiro said. "The discovery of these two distinct populations of neurons means that this brain region contains separate neural representation of current and goal behaviors.

NICHCY - Speech and Language Impairments
nichcy.org/disability/specific/speechlanguage

Christina is a speech-language pathologist. She works with children and adults who have impairments in their speech, voice, or language skills. These impairments can take many forms...

Learning Disability

speechmatters.com.sg/learning-disability.html/

Learning Disability, including dyslexia and specific language impairment, affect 15% of children in schools. Children with learning difficulties under-perform in school. They also have difficulties learning to read or write (dyslexia and dysgraphia).



Related:

  1. University of Melbourne (Apr 26, 2013). 10% of Children Affected by Specific Learning Disabilities
    https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/cognitive/sld.php
  2. Learning Disabilities Worldwide (May 17, 2011). Learning Disabilities Worldwide Changing Lives
    https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/cognitive/changing-lives.php
  3. Wendy Taormina-Weiss (Apr 03, 2012). Successful Education of Students with Autism
    https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/education/special/54848.php



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