Unexplained language development disorder: ‘Immerse your child in a language bath’ | Family

About 5 percent of children are thought to have a developmental language disorder (TOS). Language and speech development in children with TOS is different. This often results in children also having to deal with other cognitive challenges or limitations. What makes TOS so complex, and what can you do as a parent?

TOS is a language problem that cannot be explained by detectable brain damage, intelligence problems, hearing loss, physical problems or social-emotional problems (Kamphuis and Hermsen, 2015). Research into the cause of developmental language disorders is still ongoing, but possible causes include genes (heredity), brain structure, activity in the brain or brain capacity.

How to find out if a child has TOS? Sometimes you think that the child is not very smart, has a developmental delay or a form of autism, says Kentalis. Koninklijke Kentalis is a Dutch organization that offers research, care and education to people with hearing and communication disabilities because they are deafblind, deaf or hard of hearing, or because they have communication problems due to a language development disorder or autism with speech and language problems . According to Kentalis, the risk of TOS not being recognized in time is greater in children who are multilingual.

a slow speaker

Marit (surname known by the editors) is the mother of Fiene and Tum. Six years ago, she even called the child health clinic because it worried her that her son of almost three years spoke only a few words. ,, The health clinic indicated that he would be a slow talk and that it would be fine. With great pain and inconvenience, I was referred to a speech therapist. When we first got into speech therapy, it went fast and within a few months we could go to Adelante, an organization specializing in, among other things, language-speech problems. At Adelante, Tum was diagnosed with TOS. “

‘I like sweets’

TOS can vary in both severity and manifestation. Children may have problems with speech (phonology or speech motor skills), with language comprehension or language production or with combinations thereof. TOS therefore manifests itself differently in each child. Children with TOS sometimes do not talk or talk a little. They can also swap sounds (‘watching’ instead of ‘seeds’) or omitting sounds (‘teevision’ instead of ‘television’). Sometimes children have trouble coming up with a word, they can get words, or they are not understood well. Children can get angry if they are not well understood or do not understand anyone well. Sometimes the disorder shows up because children mainly make short sentences or make many mistakes.

Marit: ,, Tum has problems with the pronunciation of sounds and the design of a sentence. For example, he does not say ‘Do I have to get a candy?’, But for example ‘I can get a candy’. He calls Star Wars Tou sjo, and one tablet was ‘ap loss’ until his fifth. “


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These children usually have difficulty understanding and controlling their emotions and thoughts

Cash fishermen

Why should TOS be detected (quickly)?

“The problem of children with TOS is complex; it often does not stop at language and speech problems alone. We know that when language development lags, these children also develop problems in other cognitive areas. The children usually have a hard time understanding their feelings and thoughts and controlling themselves, ”says Constance Vissers. Vissers is a professor by special appointment and a senior researcher at Kentalis. On May 25, her inaugural lecture was held at Radboud University in Nijmegen, where she answers the question ‘How does a neuropsychological perspective on language development disorders (TOS) contribute to appropriate diagnosis, treatment and education for children and adolescents with TOS?’

As a parent, can you do something about TOS?

“Sometimes I think: I could have done more myself?” says Marit. She acknowledges that sometimes there is still prejudice about TOS. That you as a parent may not read or speak well or that it may be due to your upbringing in one way or another. Vissers definitely answers: “At TOS, it’s not about reading too little or not talking enough with your child. TOS is a neurocognitive impairment in language acquisition. TOS falls into the category of neural developmental disorders, which also includes ADHD and autism. It is an early brain development disorder that leads to a brain that is not optimally wired. As a parent, there is nothing you can do about it. “

“Once the diagnosis of TOS has been made, it is important to stimulate language development,” Vissers emphasizes. “It is important to enlarge the world for a child with TOS and to stimulate them as broadly as possible. At home, in care and education. ”

Vissers recognizes that it can be challenging for parents. “If communication is difficult, you as a parent can sometimes be inclined to talk less. For example, if there is a lot of frustration. It is important to keep doing this, to continue the dialogue. Immerse your child in a language bath. ”

Kentalis shares a number of tips for parents of children with TOS:

Be expressive. Do not just say, ‘Pull up the chair’, but show it. That way, you teach the child the meaning of your words. You can also do this by using photos, images or objects.

Do not improve your child, but only repeat what he or she has said in the right way

Keep checking with your child to see if he or she has understood you. Children are easily ashamed if they do not understand something and therefore do not always dare to say it.

A hallmark of TOS is that it is sometimes difficult to name emotions. As a result, emotions can sometimes run high. Look for ways to recognize and name emotions. There are many children’s books that focus on emotions.

Keep talking to and with your child, even if he or she does not say much back.

Children are more likely to communicate if they are interested in something and can show the initiative themselves.

Don’t worry, it goes by itself, Karin was heard. Still, it turned out that her son had a language development disorder (TOS). Read her story on The Parents of the Night.



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