Pre-school Language Disorders

What are they ?


Preschool children (3 to 5 years old) with language disorders may have trouble understanding and talking.

What are some signs or symptoms of preschool language disorders ?

Some children have problems with understanding, also called receptive language.
These include:

  • Understanding what gestures mean
  • Following directions
  • 
Answering questions
  • 
Identifying objects and pictures
  • Taking turns when talking with others

Some children have problems talking, also called expressive language. These include:

  • Asking questions
  • Naming objects
  • Using gestures
  • Putting words together into sentences
  • Learning songs and rhymes
  • 
Using correct pronouns, like “he” or “they”
  • Knowing how to start a conversation and keep it going

Many children have problems with both understanding and talking.


 Some children also have trouble with early reading and writing, such as:

  • Holding a book right side up
  • Looking at pictures in a book and turning pages
  • Telling a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end
  • 
Naming letters and numbers
  • Learning the alphabet

What if my child speaks more than one language ?

A child does not get a language disorder from learning a second language. It won’t confuse your child to speak more than one language in the home. Speak to your child in the language that you know best. Children with language disorders will have problems with both languages.

What causes preschool language disorders ?

Often the cause of a language disorder in not known. Some causes of preschool language disorders may be:

  • Family history of language disorders
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth-weight
  • Hearing loss
  • Autism
  • 
Intellectual disabilities
  • Syndromes, like Down syndrome or Fragile X syndrome
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
  • Stroke
  • Brain injury
  • Tumors
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Poor nutrition
  • Failure to thrive

What we can do……


Speech-language pathologists usually work as part of a team. The team includes you, the child’s teacher, and other professionals.

Our Speech Therapist will first assess your child’s language skills by assessing your child while thy play
 – they will assess their interaction with toys and seeing if  your child:

  • uses pretend play
  • follows directions
  • names common objects and actions
  • knows colors, numbers, and letters
  • follows routines like putting his coat away or sitting during circle time
  • sings songs or repeats nursery rhymes
  • gets needs met at home, during play, and at preschool by using language

The Speech Therapist will also assess the clarity of your child’s speech (how easy they are to understand) and assess how your child uses their lips, tongue, and teeth to make sounds. They will have your child imitate sounds or words.

For early reading and writing, the SLP will see if your child:

  • Looks at and talks about pictures in books
  • Recognises familiar signs and logos
  • Holds a book correctly and turns the pages
  • Recognises and writes his or her own name
Tries to write letters and numbers

Then…..our Speech and Language Pathologist can assist with areas identified as part of your child’s language disorder by;

  • Addressing any  language problems found during the evaluation
  • Increasing your child’s understanding and use of language
  • Teaching caregivers, family members, and teachers ways to communicate with your child
  • Helping your child use other ways to communicate when needed (augmentative and alternative communication, or AAC)
    Working with you, teachers, and other professionals to improve speech and language skills

By assisting your child with their language  your child is assisted with learning, behaviour, self- esteem, and social skills.

What you can do…..

You can assist your child to acquire language by:

  • 
Talking a lot your child
  • Helping your child learn new words
  • 
Reading to your child every day
  • Pointing out words you see
  • Point to signs in the grocery store, at school, and outside
  • 
Speaking to your child in the language you know best
  • 
Listening and responding when your child talks
  • 
Encouraging your child to ask you questions
  • 
Giving your child time to answer questions
  • 
Setting limits for watching TV and using electronic media