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I am a mum of an 11 year old boy who has a Severe Language Delay and Auditory Processing Disorder.

My son was never formally diagnosed with a delay until around 4 years of age.  I knew.  It seemed quite obvious that something wasn’t right.  He didn’t reach those ‘normal’ speech milestones that toddlers do, but my GP kept telling me he’s a boy, boys are slower to develop than girls etc, so we just progressed with no intervention and gave him some time.

There was something more to it – call it ‘mother’s intuition’ but I knew there was a problem – that’s where my journey began and I’m still on that journey.

So what exactly is a Language Delay?

When a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with his or her voice, then he or she has a speech disorder.
Difficulties pronouncing sounds, or articulation disorders, and stuttering are examples of speech disorders.

When a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely (expressive language), then he or she has a language disorder/delay.

Both children and adults can have speech and language disorders. They can occur as a result of a medical problem or have no known cause.

* Source:  American Speech and Language Hearing Association

So why does it matter whether or not you get intervention if your child has a language delay?

Firstly, Kids Speech Matters. With no intervention the problem will not go away.  They do suffer learning difficulties which can lead to and can be the result of behavioural issues and frustrations. Imagine not being able to say what you want?  Or not being able to understand what is going on around you?  This is what it can be like for a child with a language delay and or auditory processing disorder. Living in what feels like you can’t say what you want and when you are ready, the conversation has moved on and you are lost.

In my son’s case he was speaking jargon or he would repeat back to you partly what you said.  He didn’t make sense but that was because he wasn’t able to hear the spoken words clearly.  Once this was rectified with grommets he was on his way to hearing and learning – he was 4.5yrs.   He has exceptional visual skills and relies on them most of the time.  It gives him the assistance needed to work out what is going on.

So he has ‘winged it’ at the best of times and got himself through.  As he now proceeds into his middle school years – winging it isn’t going to cut it.  They now need to read to learn and if he is still learning to read, or not remembering or being left back a few conversations ago… he isn’t going to learn.

The good news is, there are programs and your own work with school and home, looking at modified learning that will help them and they will learn and develop.  It is a different style of learning.  They won’t cope without modification and it needs to be at home and at school.

My son has developed and progressed very well, is able to read, works on the computer independently, interacts appropriately socially and joins in with the class activities.  He has required constant intervention at school and home to assist with this learning.

What to do if you think your child could have a Language Delay?

In the first instance you can visit your GP or your maternal health nurse.  They will point you in the right direction.  Please note if you are sure there is something wrong you can go direct to a speech pathologist to check things out and they will offer assessments.  You can if you wish go to a speech pathologist direct and get a language assessment.

If you feel there is something wrong look into it.  It can’t hurt to check things out and know for sure what is going on.

If money or funding the visits to specialists is a concern, as they can be expensive – there are pathways for funding via Medicare.  Your doctor, speech pathologist and paediatrician can help you activate this funding which will help with part of the cost.

Where to get support and further information

A step in the right direction it to look at sites who have other parents sharing their knowledge (including myself) stories and supporting one another.  It’s important to feel that you can relate with other parents and not feel isolated.

You can find information on the web, be sure it is current by checking dates.  I have my website you can subscribe to; this is a network to assist parents and teachers  This information is being updated regularly.  The focus being on language and speech delay, auditory processing disorders and education information.

My biggest piece of advice where education is concerned is be sure to advocate for your child and there are support groups out there that can help you.

I hope this article has been insightful and ensure that you do talk about language delay and auditory processing disorders.  When you do you may just be surprised who else around you knows a little on this topic and if they don’t – you have created just a bit more awareness around a very invisible learning disability.

… every child deserves to be able to communicate and learn to the best of their ability. 

If they aren’t achieving that, then the people around them, in their lives, need to be able to accommodate and support them where possible.


Article written by Sandra Ahlquist, Owner Language Delay Network

About LDN Network:

An information source and network on Language and Speech Delay, Language Disorders, Learning Difficulties and Auditory Processing Disorders in Children.


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