Language Development Evaluations





Some learning, communication and social behaviour problems of children and adolescents can be accounted for by delayed and/or deviant language development.  When this is the case, these problems will not disappear of their own accord as (developmental) time moves on.  Unless they are professionally treated in a timely manner, they will probably become more and more complex as the child gets older.  Secondary psychological disorders, such as extreme shyness, very low frustration tolerance or achievement motivation disorders may develop.

The best time to evaluate and remedy language development problems in children is during their pre-school years.  Speech and Language therapists are the appropriate specialists who treat such disorders.  However, before such an intervention can be initiated, it is vitally important that a differential diagnosis of the specific characteristics of the Speech and Language Disorder is made.  This can be done either by the Speech and Language therapist herself or by a Child Psychologist who is specialized in performing such evaluations.   The success of any clinical intervention, whether it be a medical, a psychological or a speech and language intervention, depends on whether or not the clinician offering the intervention takes the precipitating and the maintaining factors of the disorder as fully as possible into account when developing the individualized treatment plan.  These are specific factors that can only be fully understood, explicitly defined, explained and documented within the process of a formal Speech and Language Evaluation.   Only then can an intervention be tailored to stimulate the child’s specific developmental needs.

Language developmental disorders can be caused by neurological deficits, such as minimal brain damage, by neuromuscular maturation problems (oral motor difficulties) or by unfavourable environmental conditions, such as inconsistent and confusing very early exposure to different phonetic environments such as multi-lingual child care environments, parents who inconsistently communicate with an “at risk” child in their own mother tongue sometimes and in another  language (the language of the partner or the cultural environment) that they themselves are not proficient in.  It is important to emphasize that some children thrive in stimulating multi-lingual environments, especially those who are otherwise developing well in all areas of their personality – but others do not.  Those children who are struggling with health issues, unstable family or residential situations, low intellectual abilities or who are born with introverted personalities are children who are “at risk” of developing not only oral language disorders but also written language.  They are not likely to benefit significantly from bi- or multi-lingual  child care and/or educational environments.   The most important criteria that determines if a child will benefit and can cope well with foreign language learning in later life, is if he/she has developed a sound foundation in one dominant language (mother tongue) before he/she enters school.