Language delay

Language delay is a failure to develop language abilities on the usual developmental timetable. Language delay is distinct from speech delay, in which the speech mechanism itself is the focus of delay. Thus, language delay refers specifically to a delay in the development of the underlying knowledge of language, rather than its implementation.

The difference between language and speech can be understood by considering the relationship between a computer program and an output device like a printer. The software running on the computer (a word processing program, for example) is designed to allow a user to create content that is stored in the computer. In order to actually create a physical copy of the file, the computer requires another device: a printer. The printer takes the file and transforms it into a series of commands which control the movement of a print head, thereby making marks on paper.

This two-stage process is something like the distinction between language (computer program) and speech (printer). When we want to communicate something, the first stage is to encode the message into a set of words and sentence structures that convey our meaning. These processes are collectively what we refer to as language. In the second stage, language is translated into motor commands that control the articulators, thereby creating speech. Speech refers to the actual process of making sounds, using such organs and structures as the lungs, vocal cords, mouth, tongue, teeth, etc.

Because language and speech are two independent stages, they may be individually delayed. For example, a child may be delayed in speech (i.e., unable to produce intelligible speech sounds), but not delayed in language. In this case, the child would be attempting to produce an age-appropriate amount of language, but that language would be difficult or impossible to understand. Conversely, a child with a language delay typically has not yet had the opportunity to produce speech sounds; it is therefore likely to have a delay in speech as well.

Language delay is commonly divided into receptive and expressive categories. Receptive language refers to the process of understanding what is said to us. Expressive language refers to the use of words and sentences to communicate what we think, need, or want. Both categories are fundamental in order to be able to communicate with others as well as to understand when others communicate with us.

Language delay is a risk factor for other types of developmental delay, including social, emotional, and cognitive delay, though some children may grow out of these deficits, even excelling where they once lagged, while others may not. One particularly common result of language delay is delayed or inadequate acquisition of reading skills. Reading depends upon an ability to code and decode script (i.e., match speech sounds with symbols, and vice versa). If a child is still struggling to master language and speech, it is very difficult to then learn another level of complexity (writing). Thus, it is crucial that children have facility with language to be successful readers.

Neuroscientist Steven Pinker postulates that a certain form of language delay may be associated with exceptional and innate analytical prowess in some individuals, such as Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman and Edward Teller.[1]

In 2005, researchers found a connection between expressive language delay and a genetic abnormality: a duplicate set of the same genes that are missing in sufferers of Williams-Beuren syndrome.[2]

Many reports show there is really no clear evidence that language delay can be prevented by training or educating the medical home visitor or health care professional. Overall, some of the reviews show positive results regarding interventions in language delay, but are not curative. (Commentary - Early Identification of Language Delays, 2005)

Contents

Television and language delay

Television viewing is associated with delayed language development. Research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant care givers for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional, and cognitive skills.[3] Children who watched television alone were 8.47 times more likely to have language delay when compared to children who interacted with their caregivers during television viewing.[4] As recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children under the age of 2 should watch no television at all, and after age 2 watch no more than one to two hours of quality programming a day. Therefore, exposing such young children to television programs should be discouraged. Parents should engage children in more conversational activities to avoid television-related delays to their children language development, which could impair their intellectual performance.

See also

References

  1. ^ Steven Pinker. "His Brain Measured Up". http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/articles/media/1999_06_24_newyorktimes.html. Retrieved 12/04/06. 
  2. ^ http://www.news.utoronto.ca/bin6/051020-1716.asp
  3. ^ "Media Education." Pediatrics 104.2 (1999): 341
  4. ^ Chonchaiya, Weerasak, and Chandhita Pruksananonda. "Television Viewing Associates with Delayed Language Development." Acta Paediatrica 97.7 (2008): 977-982. Retrieved 08/02/10.

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