Questions and Answers
Question # 25
Is there a role for Speech/Language Pathologists in NLD identification and intervention?
Short answer: Yes. The Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP) can be very helpful
in the identification of--and interventions for--youngsters with NLD.
SLPs are well aware of the distinctions between and among the dimensions
of form, content, and function/pragmatics in language. Such distinctions
are crucial to the identification of persons with NLD (see
Question #5). When the SLP identifies
a child as exhibiting good to superior language form, very
poor language content, and significantly impaired language
function/pragmatics, it would be very appropriate to initiate a referral
for a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment to determine if the
primary, secondary, and tertiary assets of NLD (see NLD Content and
Dynamics) are also in evidence. Should this be the case, any number
of interventions, including those of the SLP, can proceed with the
benefits provided by this context.
The SLP is most likely to encounter a child with NLD because the
youngster is exhibiting enunciatory dyspraxia. Although usually
mild in degree, discerning parents and professionals are likely to
note this and ask for consultation with the SLP. The only
potential (and very rare) downside to this is that the child may
be treated only for this minor problem whilst the major
difficulties of NLD are ignored/unexamined and, hence, not
the subject of much needed (early) intervention.
The implications for the SLP are that the child's deficits
in the content and pragmatics of LANGUAGE should form an
integral and major focus of the treatment programme. The
provision of advice to parents, teachers, and other
professionals on ways and means to increase content
(meaningfulness) and the appropriate (pragmatic) use
of language are crucial if the child is to make
appreciable gains in these areas. Those who are
knowledgeable about the manifestations of NLD in
children are of one mind re these issues: that is,
left untreated, children will not "automatically"
develop even near-normal levels of language content
and pragmatics. And failure to make progress in
these important areas can have very negative
repercussions for academic, psychosocial, and