The initial assessment looks at how a child understands language (receptive language), how a child produces language (expressive language) and how a child uses language to communicate in different language contexts (pragmatic and social language).
For pre-schoolers and children starting school, the following are examples of language intervention:
- improving oral language or speaking skills;
- help with improving their listening comprehension and attention skills;
- improving grammar and sentences;
- improving vocabulary and word retrieval skills;
- helping with sequencing their ideas and thoughts;
For middle primary school children, intervention continues with grammar, vocabulary, and written expression skills that help with learning in the classroom. Reading and spelling are important skills in both early and middle primary school years.
The service contracts to an early intervention therapist who is trained in all Hanen programs which are evidence based. These include: It Takes Two to Talk, Target Word and More than Words. Apart from years of experience in community health , the early intervention therapist also uses a range of other evidence based methods like the Derbyshire Language Scheme and the Bristol Language Assessment Scales.
PRIMARY SCHOOL STUDENTS & DEVELOPMENTAL LANGUAGE DISORDER
Children who have a persistent difficulty with language can have a Developmental Language Disorder. This is known as a hidden disability affecting 1 in 14 children.
DLD can run in families and have a signficant impact on a student such as:
- learning words, retaining their meaning and how words can relate to other words;
- using correct grammar and struturing sentences;
- understanding the rules of conversation and social interaction;
- reading, spelling, writing and listening in the classroom.
Literacy skills like reading, spelling and written expression become important as students progress through school.
Written expression involves foundational ‘transcription’ skills like handwriting, spelling and punctuation. These skills should be developed to automaticity so students can focus on ‘composition’ skills like grammar, vocabulary, word choice, and the organisation of ideas for a particular text type. Children with DLD often have difficulties with written expression.
Children with solid oral language skills who have persistent and enduring difficulty with written expression after explicit and targeted instruction may be diagnosed with a Specific Learning Disorder with impairment in written expression.
ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE
If your child is a late talker in your home or first language, he or she may struggle to learn English. It is very important for a therapist to understand your child’s home or first language ability. Most parents, especially of first born children, sometimes find it challenging to give an accurate account of their child’s language development in the home or first language. It is therefore important that an objective translator or bilingual speech therapist of that home language is able to assess your child’s first language skills.
Translation services, part of NSW Health, are available to speech pathologists working in community health centres. We strongly recommend that if you have any concerns about your child’s home or first language skills that you contact your local community health centre straight away. Wait-lists for younger children can be long so the sooner you contact your local community health centre, the sooner your child will be assessed.
Ryde Community Health Centre (on Blaxland Rd) Speech Pathology intake number is 9448 6877. School aged children between 5 to 7 years of age are offered assessments only not therapy. You will need a Medicare card to access the service.