Language refers to understanding or processing language. Expressive language includes expressing wants, needs, or thoughts and using language in a socially appropriate way.
In case of multilingualism, the mother tongue will always be examined first. If there are problems in both languages that the child speaks, a language disorder is diagnosed. Speech therapy is then reimbursed by the insurer. In the case that the mother tongue is well developed and there is a delay in English, we speak of a language delay. In this case the speech therapy is not reimbursed.
A child with a language disorder does not develop according to the steps of normal language development (see “milestones”). The child makes mistakes of different phases, or specific language errors. For example, the child has difficulty finding words when the child knows the words, trouble conjugating verbs, or the child speaks in incomplete phrases.
Delayed Speech and language development
We refer to delayed speech and language development when a young child clearly seems to lag behind others of their age, in their language use as well as speech. The child does not (yet) speak in an apparent way; speech is not always easy to distinguish and sometimes the child does not understand what is being said.
Delayed speech and language development can coincide with other disorders such as hearing problems or a globally delayed development. It can also come about that the child has problems with speech with no clear cause of this to be found.
Delay in speech and language development does bring problems: the child will not be understood in its environment, or is teased by other children. This can lead to behavioural problems: the child becomes rebellious and quick tempered if not understood, or in contrast, withdraws even further. Learning at school can be more difficult.
When parents or guardians are concerned with their child’s speech, it is strongly advised to consult a speech therapist right away.
What does the speech therapist do?
The speech therapist is a professional in the area of speech, and will investigate which disorders influence the child’s speech. In some cases this involves examination by a paediatrician or Ear Nose and Throat specialist.
Speech therapy treatment can be direct and/or indirect. Indirect therapy involves the therapist instructing and guiding the parents or guardians towards the best way of stimulating their child to speak. In direct therapy treatment the exchange between child and therapist is central. The speech therapist will train language understanding and improve the listening behaviour: extending vocabulary, sentence structure and speech will all be worked on. Parents and guardians will be advised to practice language and speech exercises at home.
The total development of the child is kept in mind throughout the therapy, including additional problems and the opportunities within the child’s environment.
The result of the treatment depends, among other things, on the cause of the delay in developing. In general a delayed speech and language development can be treated well, especially when the problem is recognized at a young age.
The investigation and treatment for delayed speech and language development will, as a rule, be reimbursed by medical insurance, and almost every individual health insurance company, provided it has been recommended by a doctor or medical specialist.