Caitlin Salerno, Speech Language Pathologist
Language delays occur when language skills are below the norm compared to age-appropriate standards resulting in a break-down in functional communication.
The delay could be due to a medical diagnosis such as autism or hearing loss, or because the child lags developmentally.
There are three main types of language delays
1. Expressive language
The child has difficulty verbally or gesturally expressing himself due to problems with sentence formation, vocabulary repertoire, word usage, and/or requesting, commenting, or protesting.
2. Receptive language
The child demonstrates difficulty understanding basic concepts, following directions, comprehending questions, identifying, and/or processing information.
3. Pragmatic language
The child does not use appropriate social skills such as eye contact, turn-taking, and social behavior.
“We typically see children ranging from ages 2 to 8 years old,” said Caitlin Salerno, SLP, who works in pediatrics at Bacharach’s main campus. “Ages 2 and 3 is when language is growing exponentially, so it is important to catch the language delay early in order to get the child back on the developmental track.”
The pediatrics team evaluates each child to make a specific diagnosis in order to recommend treatment. Evaluations consist of a combination of parent interviews, clinical observations and standardized tests, such as the Preschool Language Skills or the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals.
From the results of the evaluation, appropriate goals for each individual child can be developed. The pediatrics team develops activities for the child based on their interests, which normally includes a lot of play. It is also important to spend time on parent education to teach replicable activities and exercises, and communication strategies to implement within home and the community. When a child is in therapy, it’s important that the same goals are being targeted at home, even after discharge.
“I love my job – it’s very rewarding,” said Caitlin. “Not only do I get to watch parents leave Bacharach happier because their children were discharged for meeting all their therapy goals, but I get to hear about children succeeding in school – getting good grades, making new friends, and no longer feeling frustrated because of communication difficulties. “
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