Specific Language Impairment

Specific Language Impairment means that children have a specific and particular problem developing their speech, language and communication in line with their peers.

Children with SLI usually have no other problems with their general development, hearing and do not have brain damage. Specific language impairment is not associated with any other condition.

The problems that these children have are often very specific and individual to a particular child.


The areas of difficulty can be:

  • Talking – using sounds to make words and words to make sentences.
  • Understanding words and instructions.
  • Learning to read and spell.

It is important to understand that children with specific language impairment will not just ‘pick up’ their speech and language skills like other children, they need to be taught.

Sometimes, SLI can have a significant affect on a child’s time at school and their learning. The difficulties a child experiences can also change over time as the child gets older.

A speech and language therapist has the background knowledge and skills to help identify a specific language impairment and help a child develop his/her communication skills.


The therapist will:

  • Assess the current levels of speech and language development using observation, specific speech and language assessments and informal testing.
  • Provide specific structured activities aimed at developing weak areas of development.
  • Advise parents on home activities.
  • Liaise with school and teaching staff.
  • Provide advice sheets or specific written programs of intervention.

Last updated: January 29th, 2018