Some children have a delayed language development curve. Language acquisition therefore occurs later than for other children and the language development stages last longer, making the child’s language abilities comparable to those of a younger child. These difficulties can affect both his or her understanding and expression. If these issues persist despite help from a speech therapist, the child has a developmental language disorder.
Developmental language disorder
Developmental language disorder is a neurological impairment that affects language understanding and expression. Language impairments are not explained by intellectual deficiencies, hearing loss, a lack of stimulation or other neurological issues (attention, memory, etc.). The disorder is permanent and intensive re-education does not eliminate the difficulties it entails, although it may greatly help the child’s language development. Developmental language disorder affects different people in different ways. In everyday life, the child may have trouble understanding long or elaborate instructions and complex vocabulary, may produce inadequate or abnormally simple sentences for his or her age or have trouble producing certain sounds or sound groups. As the child ages, the disorder can show up in written tasks, thus affecting his or her learning in school.
Dyslexia and dysorthographia
Dyslexia and dysorthographia are neurological disorders that cause significant difficulties when it comes to reading and writing words accurately and fluently. These issues persist through time and resist well-known interventions deemed as effective by research. In everyday life, the child has trouble reading texts, summarizing texts or answering comprehension questions. He or she may also have trouble learning new vocabulary words, writing sentences and texts and may also make many spelling errors.
Stuttering and fluidity issues
Stuttering is a speech issue that generally appears between the ages of 2 and 5. In many cases, this is merely a transitory difficulty and the hesitations disappear over time. However, some people will experience persistent stuttering that may have a significant long-term impact if not treated with speech therapy. Stuttering can take on many forms: repetition of sounds, syllables or words, sound prolongations, blockages, adding unnecessary words or an overall lack of fluidity when speaking.
Articulatory issues have no link with language development, but rather with the movements required to produce a sound. An articulatory disorder is characterized by substitutions, omissions, additions or distortions of certain sounds (ex. lisp). It may be caused by weakness in the muscles and articulators that play a role in speech (lips, tongue, jaw). It may also be explained by other elements, such as hearing loss, a cleft palate or an abnormality when it comes to the shape of the mouth. In these cases, re-education in speech therapy will not suffice to fix the problem. Consulting another specialist (dentist, surgeon, etc.) will be necessary.
Orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD)
Orofacial myofunctional disorder affects the movements implicating the muscles of the mouth and face and is caused by a poor positioning of the tongue or lips at rest (when the person is not talking, eating, etc.). The tongue or lips being badly positioned, growth and functioning of orofacial structures (jaw, teeth, palate, etc.) can be affected. OMD therefore has an impact on articulation, chewing and swallowing.
Acquired language and speech disorders
These disorders are language and articulation difficulties that occur as a result of a neurological accident (stroke, head trauma...) or that are related to a degenerative condition, such as Parkinson’s and different forms of dementia.