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My Child Was Just Diagnosed With a Language Disorder. Now What?

By The Understood Team

If you just found out your child has a language disorder, you might have a lot of questions about what to do next. Whether your child has , , or both (mixed receptive-expressive language issues), follow these steps for ideas on how best to support your child.

Learn all you can about your child’s language disorder.

Understanding how your child’s language disorder affects her makes it easier to know how to help. Maybe she has trouble following directions or seems uninterested when others are talking. Or she might have trouble finding the right words to say and explaining something that happened in a sequential way.

Investigate treatments and therapies for language disorders.

Talk to your child’s teachers and doctors about treatment options for language disorders. Speech therapy can be especially helpful. Learn more about what  speech-language pathologists (SLPs) do and terms they use.

SLPs can help kids learn to speak in longer, more complex sentences and explain events in a logical sequence. They can help kids learn the vocabulary of everyday directions and improve active listening skills. SLPs can also show you how to work with your child at home. If your child is in preschool, find out how preschoolers may be eligible for free speech therapy.

Look into school supports for language disorders.

Schedule a meeting with the school to talk about whether your child might be eligible for special education services. Bring any reports you may have from doctors or specialists. These could help with the or process. (Learn more about how to work with the school to use outside evaluation results.)

Talk about what supports and services might be helpful. An IEP might include speech therapy or social skills goals. If your child doesn’t qualify for an IEP or a 504 plan, talk to the school about informal supports that could help. And if the school hasn’t yet evaluated your child, find out how to request a free evaluation.

Help your child be a self-advocate.

It’s important to help your child develop the ability to ask for what she needs, both in and out of school. This might take a lot of practice, especially if your child struggles with spoken language. Help her recognize her strengths and challenges. Then discuss what self-advocacy can look like in grade school, middle school and high school.

Your child can also try these self-advocacy sentence starters.

Understand the possible emotional impact.

Having a language disorder can make it hard to engage in everyday conversations. Your child might have trouble putting thoughts into words or misunderstand what others are saying. These kinds of obstacles can impact your child socially—and emotionally. So it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of anxiety and depression. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s doctor if you have concerns.

Learn how to help your child at home.

How to help your child will depend on your child’s age and specific struggles with language. If you have a young child, for example, it may help to repeat back short phrases she uses, and then expand what she says into a longer sentence. You can ask the SLP for more strategies.

Give your child plenty of time to respond to questions, and try to resist the urge to jump in and fill silent moments. Role-playing is another great way to help your child practice what she can say in different situations. Help your child practice picking up on social cues, like facial expressions and voice pitch. Explore hundreds of age-specific tips for helping kids with social challenges, like interacting with kids and adults. You may also want to use apps to help with spoken language and listening comprehension.

Find support.

Connect with your local Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) to learn about potential services near you. And consider reaching out to other parents of kids with language disorders in our online community. They can share helpful tips and experiences, and you can ask questions (and get answers from experts).

Keep in touch with the school.

Staying in contact with your child’s teachers can let you know whether her supports and services are working. Try these conversation starters, and see how to write an effective email to a teacher. You may also want to download a parent-teacher conference worksheet and a school contact list. A strong partnership with your child’s school allows everyone to work together toward your child’s success.

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receptive language:

expressive language:

IEP:

504 plan:

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Share My Child Was Just Diagnosed With a Language Disorder. Now What?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • Text Message
  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom