10 Tips to Support Children with Language Processing Delays

Understanding Slow Language Processing

Boy shouting into a speech bubble on chalkboard. Getty images, JGI/Jamie Grill

What Are Language Processing Delays or Deficits?

Once children receive a diagnosis of a language delay or learning disability, they often discover that they have 'processing delays' as well. What does “processing delay” mean? This term refers to the time it takes for the child to process information from text, from the oral information or to decipher vocabulary. They often have the language skills to comprehend, but require additional time to determine to mean.

They tend to have language comprehension ability that is lower than other children have in their age group.

Difficulties in processing language have an adverse effect on the student in the classroom, as the information coming to the child is often at a greater pace than the child is capable of processing. Children with language processing delays are at a greater disadvantage in the classroom setting.

How Central Auditory Processing Disorders Differ from Language Processing Disorders

The Speech Pathology website states that central auditory processing disorders refer to difficulties processing audible signals that are unrelated to hearing, sensitivity or intellectual impairments.

“Specifically, CAPD refers to limitations in the ongoing transmission, analysis, organization, transformational, elaboration, storage, retrieval, and use of information contained inaudible signals,” the site states.

Perceptual, cognitive, and linguistic functions all play a role in such delays. They may make it difficult for children to receive information or in particular, discriminate between the kinds of information they’ve heard. They find it difficult to process information on a continuous basis or to “filter, sort and combine information at appropriate perceptual and conceptual levels.” Remembering and retaining the information they’ve heard may also prove challenging for children with central auditory processing delays.

They have to work to attach meaning to the series of acoustic signals they’re presented with in both linguistic and non-linguistic contexts. (ASHA, 1990, pp. 13).

Strategies to Help Children With Processing Delays

Children with processing delays don’t have to suffer in the classroom. Here are 10 strategies to support the child with language processing delays:

  1. When presenting information, make sure you are engaging the child. Establish eye contact.
  2. Repeat directions and instructions and have the student repeat them for you.
  3. Use concrete materials to support learning concepts.
  4. Break your tasks into chunks, especially those requiring auditory attention.
  5. Allow additional time for the student to process and recall information.
  6. Provide repetition, examples, and encouragement regularly.
  7. Be sure children with processing delays understands that they can request clarification at any time; make sure the child is comfortable asking for help.
  8. Slow down when you speak and repeat instructions and directions often.
  9. Tap into the child's prior knowledge regularly to help the child make meaningful connections.
  10. Reduce pressure whenever possible and observe the child as much as possible to ensure that understanding is in check. Always, always be supportive.

    Fortunately, with early intervention and proper teaching strategies, many of the language processing deficits are reversible. Hopefully, the suggestions above will aid both teachers and parents in eliminating the struggles children with processing delays endure. 

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    Watson, Sue. "10 Tips to Support Children with Language Processing Delays." ThoughtCo, May. 21, 2017, thoughtco.com/support-children-with-language-processing-delays-3111322. Watson, Sue. (2017, May 21). 10 Tips to Support Children with Language Processing Delays. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/support-children-with-language-processing-delays-3111322 Watson, Sue. "10 Tips to Support Children with Language Processing Delays." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/support-children-with-language-processing-delays-3111322 (accessed January 21, 2018).