Articulation refers to the clarity of a child’s speech and their ability to produce sounds correctly. Common articulation problems involve:
- Substituting one sound for another (e.g. saying ‘fum’ instead of ‘thumb’ or ‘tar’ instead of ‘car’)
- Only producing parts of a word rather than the whole word when speaking (e.g. saying ‘seet’ instead of ‘sweet’ or ‘ba’ instead of ‘back’)
There is a link between speech sound production and literacy development in school aged children, as children who have difficulty articulating sounds correctly are at a higher risk of having coexisting problems with their literacy development.
Receptive language refers to a person’s ability to understand language. Children with receptive language difficulties can find it hard to follow instructions, understand questions and/or comprehend information presented both in the oral and written forms. Receptive language difficulties can impact on a child’s ability to interact effectively in the home, school and social environments.
The phrase expressive language comprises all the skills a person needs in order to convey their message accurately to others. Expressive language is an important aspect of communication, both in the written and spoken forms, and includes the use of grammar, vocabulary and sentence structures.
Stuttering is a motor planning problem which is seen frequently in young children. Stutters present themselves in a number of different ways. They can involve the repetition of the initial sounds in words, repetition of whole words or phrases and/or ‘blocks’ in between words, where the child struggles to produce the target word. Although stutters that are seen in young children may resolve naturally, it is important to seek advice from a speech pathologist as early as possible. A stutter that goes untreated may become more difficult to correct as the child gets older.
Literacy is defined as being ‘the ability to read and write.’ It involves the acquisition and understanding of letter-sound relationships, sight word recognition, knowing how to sound out words for both reading and spelling, and realising when a word has been misread or misspelled. Reading comprehension (or reading for meaning) is also an important aspect of literacy development, as comprehension is a vital part of all learning.
Pragmatics are social skills. These skills include the appropriate use of eye contact and turn taking, as well as how appropriately a child uses their language in the social environment to converse with others and solve problems effectively. This area of a child’s development includes the specific skills required to have a conversation, such as initiating/entering a conversation, maintaining a topic, switching between topics appropriately and taking turns to speak. Social skills also include the ability to recognise subtle cues such as facial expressions and body language. Effective pragmatic skills are essential to help children play with others, make friends and behave appropriately in various social settings.