Difficulty understanding or following what is said (receptive language skills)

Understanding what people say involves many different skills. A child may have difficulties in one or more of the following areas.

If you are concerned about your child's hearing ask your GP or Health Visitor to refer him for a hearing test.

Listening and attention skills
We need to be able to pay attention and listen when someone is talking to us in order to understand.  

Auditory skills
We need to be able to distinguish between different speech sounds (auditory discrimination) and remember what is said (auditory memory). 

Understanding words
We need to understand the meaning of the words.

Understanding sentences
We need to understand grammar, which is the way we put words together in sentences. 

Non-verbal information
We also convey a lot of meaning through the tone of our voices (intonation) and the facial expression and gestures we use (body language).  


A child who has difficulties understanding what is said to them may do some of the following: -

  • Have a short attention span
  • Find it difficult to listen to someone who is talking without being distracted
  • Have difficulty following instructions
  • Find it difficult to understand new words
  • Find it hard to understand sentences with lots of information
  • Be slow to develop their own talking skills.

You may notice that you have to repeat what you say or simplify how you say it.