Communication and Language Disorders
About communication and language disorders
‘Communication’ is the exchange of both verbal and nonverbal information. It includes talking, as well as understanding words, visual information, body language, facial expressions, and gestures (e.g. pointing, waving hello, nodding your head to mean “yes”).
Young children will vary considerably in the development of their communication skills. Some children will seem to show delays but then ‘catch up’. Individual differences in language ability before the age of around 4 years are not predictive of later outcomes.
Some children may experience difficulty producing sounds and words (e.g. stuttering or mutism), and they may use visual aspects of communication instead (e.g. gestures, eye contact or picture cards). Other children may find understanding the visual parts of communication challenging.
Some children may need support with using and understanding spoken language. A child’s ability to understand spoken language may be different from their ability to use spoken language. For example, a child might be able talk and express themselves clearly, but they may find it harder to understand instructions, especially if they are long or complex.
Some children may also need support with using verbal and nonverbal communication in social situations. For example, some children may have trouble understanding the meaning behind greetings (e.g. saying hello, shaking hands) or taking turns in conversations. Other children may not understand humour and jokes, or metaphors.
What might be some strengths?
- Some children may have good visual perceptual skills. They may be good at visual searches and recognition.
- Some children can participate successfully when given clear and specific instructions.
Where might you provide support?
- Some children may have difficulty understanding or giving verbal instructions.
- Some children may have trouble expressing how they feel. This can cause frustration and challenging behaviours.
- Children may need support with interacting with others and building relationships.
- Some children may be easily distracted. They may be unable to focus on learning activities or may have trouble shifting their attention from one activity to another.
Best practice tips
Early Years Learning and Development Outcomes
Outcome 1: Children have a strong sense of identity
Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world
Outcome 3: Children have a strong sense of wellbeing
Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners
Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators
Other educators and early childhood professionals
Other co-occurring conditions
Visit our resources page for a range of resources that can help to create inclusive education environments for children with disabilities and developmental challenges. Some particularly relevant resources for children with communication disorders include: