My child was just diagnosed with a language disorder. Now what?

Learn what steps to take if your child has a language disorder. Find out ways to help your child build expressive and receptive language skills.

If you just found out your child has a language disorder, you might have a lot of questions about what to do next. Some kids may struggle with . Others may struggle with . Some may have trouble with both.

Whatever the diagnosis, here are six ways to support your child.

1. Learn about your child’s language disorder, treatments, and therapies.

Some kids have trouble following directions. Other kids may have trouble finding the right words to explain an event sequentially. Knowing how your child’s language disorder affects them makes it easier to know how to help.

You can also talk to your child’s teachers and doctors about treatment options. For instance, speech therapy can be useful.

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) can help kids:

  • Learn to speak in longer, more complex sentences

  • Explain events in a logical sequence

  • Learn the vocabulary of everyday directions

  • Improve active listening skills

SLPs can also show you how to work with your child at home.

If your child is in preschool, find out how preschoolers may be eligible for free speech therapy.

2. Look into school supports for language disorders.

Schedule a meeting with the school to talk about whether your child might be eligible for special education services. Bring any reports you may have from doctors or specialists. These could help with the or process.

Talk about what supports and services might be helpful. An IEP might include speech therapy or social skills goals. If your child doesn’t qualify for an IEP or a 504 plan, talk to the school about informal supports that could help.

Learn more about how to work with the school to use outside evaluation results. And if the school hasn’t yet evaluated your child, find out how to request a free evaluation.

3. Help your child be a self-advocate.

It’s important to help kids develop the ability to ask for what they need, both in and out of school. This might take a lot of practice, especially if your child struggles with spoken language.

Make sure to help your child see their own strengths and challenges. Then discuss what self-advocacy can look like. Have your child try these self-advocacy sentence starters.

4. Understand the possible emotional impact.

Having a language disorder can make it hard to engage in everyday conversations. Your child might have trouble putting thoughts into words. Or they may misunderstand what others are saying.

These kinds of obstacles can impact your child socially — and emotionally. So it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of anxiety and depression. Reach out to your child’s doctor if you have concerns.

5. Learn how to help your child at home.

How you help will depend on your child’s age and specific struggles with language. For example, if you have a young child, it may help to repeat back short phrases they use. Then expand what they say into a longer sentence. You can ask the SLP for more strategies.

Give your child plenty of time to respond to questions. Try to resist the urge to jump in and fill silent moments.

You can also try role-playing so your child can practice what to say in different situations. Use the role-play to teach about social cues, like facial expressions, voice pitch, and tone. If your child has social skills challenges, make sure to use age-specific strategies.

6. Stay connected to teachers and find other support.

Stay in contact with your child’s teachers to know if the services and supports in place are working. A strong partnership lets everyone work together toward your child’s success.

Another idea is to connect with your local Parent Training and Information Center (PTI). This is a way to learn about services in your area.

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