Exploring Disorders of Language

Thank you to Rebecca Castelo, Speech and Language Therapist, for sharing her summary of the CPD event which was advertised on the blog earlier in the year.

Last week over 100 delegates were gathered to hear Maggie Johnson, Speech and Language Therapist Advisor whose specialism is in childhood communication disorders, speak about disorders of language. The day was highly anticipated and had attracted interest from across Scotland; Maggie did not disappoint.

Maggie has a wealth of knowledge and experience, bringing complex descriptions to life by drawing on real-life examples and scenarios. We heard about how children acquire language, the warning signs for disorders of language and how different diagnoses can overlap. The day was full of new learning and provided lots of ‘food for thought’.

Some of the day’s highlights include:

A simple model for the language system required for effective communication (Bloom and Lahey):


All three areas overlap and interact. For example, the form we use depends on the pragmatics of the situation (e.g. ‘Sit down!’ vs ‘Would you like to sit down?’ – Both have the same meaning, but they each take a different form.)

The development of oral language and phonological awareness

Maggie told of how young babies pick up the syllable structure of their mother tongue and will reproduce this structure in their babble patterns. It was highly entertaining to hear Maggie ‘babble’ in English, Indian and Italian structures.

We heard about how children develop language, and that the development of phonological awareness is linked to underlying oral language skills. Maggie stressed that rhythm and rhyme are early predictors of reading; yet it is possible to speak clearly with no phonological awareness and with little awareness of word boundaries.

The overlap between semantic difficulties, pragmatic difficulties and autism spectrum condition


At a classroom level practitioners can support the development of language through engaging with the following materials available on the Highland Literacy Blog:




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.