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Improve the Expressive and Receptive Language of Preschool Learners with Language Disorder

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All children grow and develop their language in similar patterns, but each child develops at his or her own pace. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” doctrine for the right age on when a child should be able to utter his/her first words. In fact, according to US National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the first 3 years of life, when the brain is developing and maturing, is the most intensive period for acquiring speech and language skills. These skills develop best in a world that is rich with sounds, sights, and consistent exposure to the speech and language of others (cite). However, this case does not happen all the time hence, the emergence of language disorder.

Define language disorder then cite

Children suffering from language disorder have trouble understanding what others say (receptive language) and has a hard time sharing their thoughts (expressive language). Rowe (2013) stated that language impairment affects both oral and written language. The problem becomes more identifiable when the child is expected to make the shift from contextualized language to the greater demands of decontextualized language. Contextualized language is children learning about items in a kitchen by helping mom dry the dishes. The child is asked by the mother to name the items that he/she puts away in the cupboards. Language learning takes place in a contextual environment. In contrast that with decontextualized language, which is the language of the classroom. For example, a teacher may ask, ‘What is the capital city of France?’ A child may not know the answer to the question because it could be new information so may need to look up the answer in a book or on the internet. Children with language disorder struggle mightily with decontextualized language.

They are at a big disadvantage as soon as they step into the classroom, from prep onwards. The problem increases as the child moves through the grades as, from early years to the later primary school years. Decontextualized language becomes more common and established, and children are expected to cope with its demands. As an educator, I have handled children with different disabilities and one of which is language disorder. These kids appear to be normal. They actively engage in physical activities and joyously participate in classroom discussion however; you’ll only know that these kids aren’t normal, as they appear to be, after a personal interaction has been established. That is why this paper aims to improve the current system of managing language disorder among pre-school learners for me to be able to help my students as well.

A defining characteristic of language disorder is that it exists in the absence of intellectual disability. The child has normal intelligence, but difficulty with language. From prep (year 1) onwards the whole academic learning event becomes a series of negative experiences for children with language difficulty. Increasingly, they consider themselves ‘dumb’ and even lose the motivation to do well at school. Kaderavek, J.N. (2011) Some statistics shows that 3.3% of U.S. children ages 3-17 have a language disorder that lasted for a week or longer during the past 12 months. (Hyattsville 2015) Research suggests that the first 6 months of life are the most crucial to a child’s development of language skills. For a person to become fully competent in any language, exposure must begin as early as possible, preferably before school age. Cognition (2009).

A variety of congenital and acquired conditions may result in abnormal speech and/or language development. These conditions include primary disorders of hearing, as well as specific genetic diseases, brain malformation syndromes, inborn errors of metabolism, toxic exposures, nutritional deficiencies, injuries, and epilepsy. Children who are deaf or hard of hearing provide an especially clear example of the interrelationships among the many causes and consequences of speech and language disorders in childhood Fitzpatrick (2015). Because adequate hearing is critically important for developing and using receptive language, expressive language, and speech, being deaf or hard of hearing can lead to speech and language disorders, which in turn contribute to socio emotional and academic disabilities. This is particularly the case when the onset of hearing problems is either congenital or acquired during the first several years of life. Brumbach and Goffman (2014) stated that Speech and language disorders can accompany or result from any of the conditions that interfere with the development of perceptual, motor, cognitive, or socio emotional function.

Accordingly, conditions as varied as Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injury, and being deaf or hard of hearing are known to increase the potential for childhood speech and/or language disorders, and many children with such conditions will also have speech and language disorders. In addition, studies of children with primary speech and language disorders often reveal that they have abnormalities in other areas of development. Glynn et al., (2011) claims that apart from being deaf or hard of hearing, there are a diverse set of conditions that should be considered as other potential causes of speech and language disorders. As is the case with hearing, abnormal development of anatomic structures critical to the proper generation of speech may lead to speech sound disorders or voice disorders. For example, articulation and phonological disorders may result from cleft palate. Studies of speech and language disorders in children, such as speech sound disorders Lewis et al., (2007) and specific language impairment Barry et al., (2007) Bishop (2006); Bishop and Hayiou-Thomas, 2008; Rice, (2012) show that these conditions are familial (i.e., risk for these disorders is elevated for family members of affected individuals) and that this familiality is partially heritable (i.e., genetic factors shared among biological family members contribute to family aggregation). However, heritability estimates (i.e., the proportion of phenotypic variance that can be attributed to genetic variance) for some speech and language disorders, such as specific language impairment, have been inconsistent Bishop and Hayiou-Thomas, (2008).

It is important to determine the type and severity of the language disorder before a decision about type and intensity of treatment is made. The most targeted treatment for children with language disorders is speech and language therapy. This is usually carried out by a licensed speech/language pathologist (SLP) with special training in the treatment of children. The access of special education services through the public school may be considered. Additionally, occupational therapy – if there are problems with feeding or excessive drooling or poor coordination of the muscles of the mouth and tongue – may be helpful. In certain types of DLDs, particularly severe verbal dyspraxia, training in alternative forms of communication, such as sign language or the use of an electronic communication device, is useful in allowing the child to communicate effectively. If a problem with auditory processing is identified, computer programs designed to improve auditory processing may be considered. The child with DLD may benefit from classroom accommodations to facilitate learning. Accommodations to consider include extra attention in the classroom to ensure they have understood the lessons and the homework assignments, repeated instructions, availability of assignments online or in written form. Tomblin, J. B , Bean, A., & McGregor, K., (2011)

As observed in this research, preschool learners with any sort of speech or language disorder have a risk of being in a disadvantage in school and in life in general. For example, people with dyslexia have a terrible problem in their life because their brains process letters differently than we do. For them it is easy to confuse letters like “m” with the letter “w,” so they may have a problem with spelling. Scientifically studied and proven, children can inherit speech and or language disorders from their genetics and or several factors during prenatal days. As believed language disorders can be treated through educational practices. However, if the educators do not change their ways and strategies of teaching how children with disorders will learn and excel?

There is a need to study these issues regarding on preschool learners with language disorders because they are technically the new generation. They may be the generation to change it all and start something great and brand new. High, P. (2008) claims that language delay during the preschool years is likely to have long-term consequences for the education, health and wellbeing of individuals and potentially the prosperity and cohesion of our society. On the other hand more study is needed, especially to help the educators to guide and teach the preschoolers properly on how they can develop or improve their expressive and receptive language. I believe there are more strategies and different ways in a classroom to be discovered on how to help them.

The Hanen Centre (2016) stated that an enormous amount of learning can take place when children are involved in daily routines such as bathing, feeding, diaper changing and riding in a car – things that parents do with their children every day. These daily events are so important because they provide opportunities for repetitive learning in a natural, enjoyable yet structured way. According to Piasta & Wagner, 2010). A meta-analysis of 161 studies of early education interventions categorized programs by their “primary instructional grouping” (whole group, small group, individual instruction, or mixed) and their “primary pedagogical approach” (direct [teacher-led] instruction, inquiry based [hands-on, student directed] instruction, or mixed). When programs utilizing a variety of curricula were categorized in these ways, the analysis revealed that use of a direct instruction approach was associated with more impacts on children’s cognitive development, as was the use of smaller or individualized instruction However, Camilli, Vargas, Ryan, & Barnett, (2010) claims that the importance of specific formats for instruction and activities to promote learning in the early education setting, do not indicate what might be appropriate amounts of time for children to spend in small groups or in teacher-directed versus child-initiated activity settings. In another study, Powell, Burchinal, File, and Kontos (2008) found that, within the context of academic activities, children were more likely to be actively engaged during involvement with a peer group and when teachers provided monitoring and verbal affirmations. In contrast, active engagement during academic activities was least likely when children were involved in a whole group setting and when teachers gave direct verbal instructions. Early et al. (2010) and Chien et al. (2010) suggest that more time in free play and less time in whole group activity settings is associated with higher scores on measures of process quality. However, complicating the picture is the finding by Chien and colleagues (2010) that children who spend the most time in free-choice activities exhibit smaller gains on a wide range of school readiness skills. Other recent studies examining time use in early learning settings by incorporating a more diverse set of early learning program types, and by considering patterns of time in activity settings separately from other observed classroom experiences (Chien et al., 2010; Howes et al., 2008). However, Mashburn et al.(2008) found in a large study of public pre-kindergarten programs that general structural measures of quality and global environmental quality did not predict children’s school readiness outcomes, but that the important features of pre-kindergarten classrooms for children’s learning were Class as Emotional and Instructional Support scores. The data shows that daily routine profiles identified are associated with a small number of program characteristics; it shows also the measure something different from general measures of program quality.

Research tends to focus on the outcome of classroom program routines for preschool children with language disorder rather than measuring the effectiveness of classroom setting for the development of preschoolers with language disorder. The information gathered perhaps applicable for informing critical or intentional teaching practice. Results of this study might push early childhood educators to reflect on the extent to which the daily routines that they implement in their classrooms support children’s opportunity for education, and to be more intentional to their allocation of preschoolers’ time to various activity settings and activities. It also helps the educators to improve their way of teaching in preschool learners with language disorder using classroom routines.

In spite of these early observations, the use of classroom routines in developing preschoolers with language disorder can be modified according to the daily activities most likely using patterns such as reading and writing, playing, using computers that say words loud, using simple gestures and naming the object. The speech and language pathologist (SPL) suggested that the mentioned earlier are the interventions use to help preschoolers with their disabilities. In addition, SPL and preschool teachers should work together to monitor the progress of a children. Many recent studies focus on improving the language of children using classroom routines However, it is not clear whether the use of classroom activities can be amend to improve the expressive and receptive language disorder of a preschoolers. AFASIC claims that it can be hard for educators to identify the language disorder of young children when a child may present with elements of both delay and disorder. There should be more research on how to develop the receptive and expressive language of preschool learners not just to help them but also to make them feel better about their selves.

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