Developmental Language Disorder: Comprehension difficulties

Developmental Language Disorder: Comprehension difficulties

What is a Developmental language disorder?

It is a problem with using and/or understanding language that is not caused by a biomedical condition such as cerebral palsy or hearing impairment, and which persists into school age and beyond. It affects about 1 in every 14 children and impacts on progress in school and in everyday life. Difficulties with using language, such as limited vocabulary or poor grammar, are often the most obvious signs of developmental language disorder. However, children with this disorder often also have difficulty with comprehension. They may be labeled as distracted, forgetful, poor listeners or even naughty, when in fact these children are having difficulty understanding what is said to them.

Children with a developmental language disorder may have difficulty:

  • Following complex instructions or instructions with multiple steps
  • Answering questions
  • Following the plot of a story
  • Understanding what they are reading
  • Learning from information that is presented through words (spoken or written)

These children may find it easier to learn at home and in the classroom if you:

  • Reduce distractions when presenting important or difficult information
  • Break down instructions into simpler steps
  • Speak more slowly and pause between important pieces of information
  • Repeat instructions and information several times
  • Provide information in non-verbal formats (e.g., pictures and diagrams) and provide hands-on experiences for learning
  • For students who are reading, provide written notes that can be re-read as many times as necessary

Comprehension skills can be improved through therapy with a Speech Pathologist. If you think that your child has comprehension difficulties, talk to your Speech Pathologist about what can be done to help.

Click below for a video explaining developmental language disorder.