Teacher Toolbox
Learning Strategies - Overview

language Functioning

Language functioning entails the ability to comprehend oral and written language, to use words to communicate ideas, and to converse effectively and fluently.

* It is important to keep in mind that children with certain special needs like fetal alcohol effects often exhibit a relative strength in their skills to speak fluently, verbalize their comments, needs, and recall events.  Though they can state their needs and retell events, they often do not understand the underlying meanings conveyed during exchanges.  Their ability to understand the information can be misleading given their skills to generate comments and verbalize their wants.

Though children with special needs may be able to express their needs, respond to questions, and restate events, they exhibit weaknesses in other areas of language, such as:

  • Inability to infer the underlying messages during interpersonal exchanges
  • Difficulties maintaining and following the topic of conversation
  • Difficulties with social discourse and pragmatics
  • Difficulties using verbal mediation as a problem solving technique
  • Problems comprehending written language, especially when required to infer information
  • Difficulties using written language to express ideas

Written language requires the use of other skills that often are impacted in children with special needs.  To convey messages through writing, students need to utilize graphomotor skills (handwriting), as well as organize the information, plan the format of piece, maintain the thread of the topic, and apply grammar and style rules to complete the task.