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Specific Language Impairment

Specific Language Impairment (SLI) is a condition which is characterized by a persistent delay in the language development and without any typical handicapping condition. Specific Language Impairment has various names such as language delay, language deviance, language impairment, language disorder and language disability.

Causes of Specific Language Impairment

Specific Language Impairment has had a good of share of controversy on its causes. In the early years of the mid-1970s, people did not know much of this disorder. There was not much research done to verify the causes of this disorder. People argued that Specific Language Impairment was brought by conditions such poor parenting, brain damage which may have been caused at the time of birth or some ear disease which may have been at the time of birth. These explanations were not strongly scientifically backed so as to explain the causes of Specific Language Impairment.

The condition of Specific Language Impairment is confusing as it occurs when all the other body developments are normal, such as hearing. The condition of SLI is becoming clear that, it may be out of genetic interaction that this condition is caused. The idea that genes may be a contributing factor, was further supported by a research which was done between monozygotic and dizygotic twins.  Monozygotic twins, who are genetically identical, had more traits alike when they took an SLI diagnosis test than the dizygotic twins. The dyzygotic twins may have a wide variance because they have at least 50% of segregating genes. These genes take different forms over time. The dizygotic twins will therefore be different from each other. ( Fisher 2005 )

Despite the fact that the condition of Specific Language Impairment having being declared that it was a genetically transferred disease, it was still complicated as it did not follow any inheritance pattern of any corresponding dominant or recessive pattern. There was a family in London, England, that was an exceptional. The KE family was a three generational family. It was extensively studied by the Genetists. For every affected parent of the family, 50% of the children were affected by the Specific Language Impairment. (Fisher 2005)
It was explained that a piece of DNA mutated on a gene on the chromosome 7. FOXP2 was the gene that was under study. It was established that the gene FOXP2 did not affect language only (Fisher 2005 ). The gene rather controlled a range of other various genes that had various effects on the development of various organs of the body which included the brain system that were important for speech and language. Structural and functional brain-imaging studies have shown that affected family members have abnormalities in the caudate nuclei and cerebellum as well as in Broca’s area, which is a classic language center. (Fisher 2005 )

Some researchers have argued that the condition of Specific Language Impairment was out of a certain brain abnormality. They argued that the brain of the affected people did not have clear brain lesions in either of the brain hemispheres.

Others argued that this condition was not really a speech difficulty problem but it was a problem which was reflected with a general perceptual difficulty to processing of rapidly timed events. Speech was the hardest of the activities. To sum it up, the problem of Specific Language Impairment is a problem that has no definite cause which should be analyzed in a deeper means and at different dimensions.

Symptoms/characteristics of Specific Language Impairment

At the age of 2-3 years, the children with the condition of Specific Language Impairment exhibit speech slow learning traits.  Children who are normal are able to acquire language skills faster than the kids who are affected by this situation. They are not able to grasp the various vocabularies than their colleagues who grasp them easily. At this stage the children with SLI can only speak a few words and as well as understand a few words too. They are able to only combine a few phrases in their speech. They make short sentences which are very simple. There speech is difficult to understand due to the poor pronunciation by the children.

At the age of 4-5 years, the children have a limited wealth of vocabulary which is comparable to those of 2-3 years.  They also have a poor sentence structure formation which is as well comparable to that of 2-3 year old children. They have phonological problems- the way their speech sounds is not really mature. They also make sentences which are simple.

One notable characteristic about children affected by Specific Language Impairment is that, they have a problem with short term memory also known as STM. SLI is attributed to inability to hold verbal materials in memory for a short time which is otherwise known as phonological short term memory. This was proved when the researchers gave some nonsense words to the children. If a certain word such as ‘retcospod’, it would be difficult for the Specific Language Impaired affected children to remember the word as they continue to repeat the meaningless word. (Bishop, Adams, & Norbury, 2006)

It was also found that English-speaking children who are affected with SLI have difficulty in verbs. It was found that they had difficulty in the construction of past tenses of verbs ending with ‘ed’. For example, in a sentence like, ‘He  decided to go to the cinema.’. They would omit the ‘d’ at the end of the word ‘decided’ and only state the word ‘decide’ which is grammatically wrong (Bishop, Adams, & Norbury, 2006). Children affected by SLI have difficulty understanding speech especially someone who is rapidly speaking. This is because they exhibit a deficit with perception of auditory input. They therefore take longer to understand what they have been told.
Effects of SLI to children on academic learning and socialization.

Specific Language Impairments affects the affected children negatively. Children are not able to grasp what they are taught in the class by their teachers. This therefore makes them lag behind in class academically. They are not able to express themselves well due to their speech difficulty, they will therefore not participate much in class which may lower their academic capability.

Children affected with SLI are likely to lose self-esteem. They feel embarrassed when they are with their peers. Their peers will probably laugh at them due to their poor speech. This will overall affect there capability, whether in class or in the social life. They are likely to lag behind in social learning as they shy away from the people.
They suffer problems in reading problems which will adversely affect their academic performance. They may not be able to read on their own without someone to help them in their study. They are therefore likely to suffer and lag behind. They suffer emotional stress as they are isolated by their peers. This will negatively impact on their academic life.

Solving the SLI condition

We can try to help the children affected SLI by developing an exercise lesson. Exercise has been proven to bring about helpful solutions to people with this problem. Also exercise has been associated with many other benefits that help body to overcome as well as mitigate a number of health complications as long one it is well administered and the respondents paying details to the prescribed training program. In this lesson formulate short term goals. Here the goals may involve the children’s brains be able to distinguish varying syllables such as ‘da’ and ‘ba’ or ‘ma’ and ‘na’. The children will now be able to note the tiny differences between syllables. In the lesson we are to use wacky farm animals, clowns or funny animated characters. These will keep the exercise entertaining and one likely to realize good results from it. An exercise program should be entertaining so that the adherents can concentrate more on participation which will temporarily make them forget the difficulties I the training itself. When the entertainment value is upheld, more positive results are likely to be realized and also make the trainees master the skills so that they can be in a position to do it on their own with enthusiasm. The characters emphasize and will dramatize the funny sounds. ( Kids Source)

For children who are in their early years, we utilize the use of pictures as well as the names of the pictures. This will enrich there vocabularies as well as their pronunciation of the new words. We can also use computer soft ware exercises. They alter sound and make it more distinguishable for the kids who are affected.

As a long term goal, make the children understand their condition and learn how to live and overcome it. Make them feel that they are not different from the rest. Provide the relevant moral support to the children. They will therefore have the courage to associate with their peers as well as be active in class. They will therefore not be socially and emotionally be pressurized due to their conditions. They will be able to learn from their environment.