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Researchers from the UGR have designed a new test to detect language comprehension impairments in children.

How can we detect when a child has difficulties in the development of language? Children usually begin to speak when they are between twelve and fifteen months old, although this period can vary according to several parameters.

Language disorders in children are the main objective of study of the research group called “Experimental and Applied Speech Therapy” headed by Elvira Mendoza Lara, a lecturer at the Department of the Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatment of the University of Granada. The work carried out during the last three years has achieved one of its most important objectives: the development of the first test in Spanish to assess children with SLI (Specific Language Impairments). It has been called a “Comprehension test of Grammar Structures.

This test, which is based on similar tests carried out in English- speaking countries, assesses children’s grammatical comprehension. It consists of 80 questions, divided into different sections according to their complexity. In each case, the child is presented with four pictures, and has to identify which of them refers to the oral statement given.

This test developed in the UGR [] is already being used nationwide (for example, the Education Department of the Regional Government of Andalusia uses this test in many schools) and in South America.

Elvira Mendoza emphasises the importance of early intervention in order to alleviate impairments in the development of language. "The best age to treat these disorders is between 0 and 3 years old. In this range of age there are more possibilities of solving problems”, suggests Elvira Mendoza.

The treatment of SLI children is directed not only at them, but also their parents, because they need to know how to improve the child’s speaking. “It is very important that they carry out exercises to control their attention, enrich their grammar and vocabulary, and establish communication models using speech therapy techniques”, indicates Elvira Mendoza.

The statistics on how many children present SLI vary according to the seriousness of the case. “Normally, 3% of children under seven years old begin to speak later than average, and the potential cases of SLI are among this group of later speakers”.

The UGR lecturer suggests that parents “should see a specialist as soon as they suspect that their child may have some kind of language impairment. Treatment in time increases the possibilities of solving the problem”.

Antonio Marín Ruiz | alfa
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