I’m going to tell you about a type of language learning impairment called Specific Language Impairment – or SLI for short. This is a difficulty with understanding language, learning language, and with talking. (advance) Children who have specific language impairment can do well at activities that don’t involve talking or understanding, such as (advance) Sports (advance) Music (advance) Making things (advance) and art. (advance) And they can be good at making friends
Specific language impairment is something of a puzzle. It’s not caused by hearing loss or by a physical disease.
Most children with SLI have difficulties with talking – putting words together in spoken sentences. These are called Expressive language difficulties.
Some children have difficulties understanding what other people say. This is called a Receptive Language difficulty. It’s not always obvious when a child has a receptive language difficulty, but they may only pick up the odd word here and there, and not fully understand what people say.
There are many ways in which language can be affected in SLI. A speech-and-language therapist can assess a child to work out what the exact difficulties are. Some children have difficulty working out the meanings of words. (advance) They may get confused if people use long and complicated vocabulary.
It may be difficult for a child to understand long and complicated sentences
Some children have word-finding problems: Even if they know a word and understand what it means, it may be difficult to remember that word and they can’t readily produce it
And when children with SLI talk, they tend to use simple sentences, and may leave grammatical endings off words, so that they sound like a younger child
Some children with SLI also have problems with speaking clearly; their speech may sound immature, or hard to understand. For instance, a child may say “I got a pay tation”, rather than “I’ve got a play station”. If children with SLI have these kinds of speech problems, they often improve as they get older
Because there are no obvious symptoms, SLI is a hidden disability. It’s important to identify if a child has specific language impairment. Children with SLI sometimes can’t respond to things that other people say – and if their difficulties aren’t understood, people may think they are naughty or lazy. It’s all too easy to assume that if a child can’t speak well, that they can’t do anything else. In fact, many children with SLI have talents, and it is important to develop these, and to encourage children in areas where they can achieve and gain confidence. I hope you’ve found this video helpful. If you would like further information, you will find several links on our channel page to organisations that help families of children with SLI.