Neurological Diagnosis and Treatment for Learning Disabilities

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Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Adults
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children
Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder
Digital EEG and Evoked Potentials Assessment (DEEP)
Cognitive Guidance for High Achievers
Developmental Coordination Disorder
Learning Disabilities
Speech and Language Disorders
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Speech and Language Disorders

What are speech and language disorders?
All children seem slow in the early stages of learning language, but some children continue to have problems.

As a parent, you may have become concerned about your child's speech and language development. Your child may be learning to speak later than you expected. Or, your child's speech may be unclear. You may notice that your child needs you to repeat directions before completing a task correctly.

The earlier your child is diagnosed the better. Speech therapy is available even for infants. Only a specialist in the evaluation of speech/language disorders can accurately tell which children will require specific therapies.

You should not "wait and see" if a problem goes away or continues. You may miss many months of valuable therapy. All children suspected of having a speech/language problem must have hearing tests.

What is the difference between a disorder and a delay?
Speech and language disorders describe children whose speech and language is developing abnormally. This is the most common developmental problem in preschool children.

A speech or language delay describes a child whose skills are developing, but at a slower rate than normal. A speech problem can be mild, moderate, or severe.

A speech or language problem affects your child's emotional and social interaction with your family, among friends, and in school. Delays and disorders may precede future problems in intellectual development and success in school. You and your doctor should carefully watch your child's progress into the school-aged years.

What are language disorders?

Language is a system of verbal, written, or gestured symbols that are used to communicate. Language has several parts that develop at the same time. Language is divided into content, form, and use.

  • Content, or semantics, refers to the meaning of the message.
  • Form includes grammar and syntax. Grammar and syntax refer to rules that define the structure and organization of words to form sentences.
  • Use refers to the use of language both verbal and nonverbal.

    Receptive and expressive language disorders:
  • A receptive language disorder means that you have difficulty understanding the content, form, or use of language.
  • An expressive language disorder means you have trouble using content, form, or use of language when trying to convey a message.

What are speech disorders?
Speech is the actual sound of spoken language. Speech is divided into three parts: articulation and phonology, voice, and fluency.

  • Articulation is making sounds. Children who have articulation problems will probably substitute, leave out, or distort normal speech sounds at inappropriate ages. For example, it is not unusual for 3 year olds to substitute the "f" sound for "th" in their speech; "I am firsty (thirsty)." These errors should not, however, be present in the speech of a child over 5.
    Phonology is the sound system of a language and the rules of sound sequences that make up words. A phonological disorder is failing to grow out of patterns such as babbling or developing inappropriate sound patterns.

  • Voice disorders are when there is an abnormal voice quality, pitch, or loudness that may result from an abnormal larynx (voice box) or breathing pathway. It may be caused by misuse or abuse of the voice box (for example, habitual screaming

  • Fluency disorders are problems with rate and rhythm of the flow of speech, such as stuttering and stammering

What is considered normal speech development?
These milestones are a guide to help you and your doctor decide if your child needs speech and language testing.

Milestones for Normal Speech

Age                    Speech

Birth                      Undifferentiated cry
2 to 3 months         Differentiated cry; responsive cooing
3 to 4 months         Random babbling
5 to 6 months         Rhythmic babbling
6 to 11 months       Imitative babbling
12 months              1 to 2 words
18 months              5 to 20 words
24 months              2-word sentences, increasing vocabulary size

During the first 12 to 18 months, a baby learns social skills, how to make sounds, and how to understand what you are saying. Your baby learns that his own behavior (smiling, making sounds) has a powerful effect upon the behavior of others.

At 18 to 24 months, children frequently have a vocabulary spurt from 5 to 10 words to more than 50 words. Children start understanding language a lot more when they are about 2 or 3 years old. Children understand more language than they can express during their early years.

The following are problems to be concerned about. Call Bright Minds Institute if your child:

  • Does not understand his name, "no," and a few words or simple commands by age 1 year.
  • Is not saying words by 14 to 16 months of age.
  • Cannot answer basic "wh" questions (what, where, who) by age 3 years.
  • Has difficulty being understood by people outside the family after age 3.
  • Has any unusual facial, vocal, or breathing behaviors associated with speech.
  • Has noticeable hesitations or repetitions in speech past age 5 years.
  • Is chronically hoarse without having a cold.
  • Cannot tell a simple sequential story by age 5.
  • Cannot tell a more involved story by age 7.
  • Shows limited development of vocabulary.
  • Shows poor school performance.
  • Demonstrates a significant gap between nonverbal and verbal abilities.


For more information please call: Bright Minds Institute (415) 561-6755


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