The development of receptive language begins in utero. The fetus begins to recognize the mother’s speech patterns and distinguish them from other sounds. At birth, the neo-nate’s cry serves as a highly significant biological function. An acoustic analysis of the birth cry holds a plethora of information related to the respiratory,laryngeal, and, the nervous systems. Crying continues to serve as a mecha-nism to communicate the infant’s needs. Thereafter, the neonate begins to vocalize different vowel sounds while experimenting with his voice, or, in response to other’s interaction. Eventu-ally, differential cry emerges, with a special cry for hunger, and an entirely different cry when the caregiver leaves the room. With age, the infant beginsto expand his vocalization, babble and starts to use a range of deictic andrepresentational gestures. Use of the first meaningful word bestows the infant with the magical ability to use spoken human language. Along with the development of the central, and peripheral nervous system, and, the sub-systems for speech, the toddlerthen moves on to attain more complex speech and language patterns. These complex speech and language patterns relate to the sounds (phonology), words (semantics), grammatical forms (morpho-syntax) and pragmatic use of language in conjunction with the correct articulation, fluency of speech and appropriate voice and resonancequality. At times, the child is exposed to one language and most often (in the urban Indian context), more than one. Thereafter, as the child grows up to be an adult, the child’s language mecha-nism deftly absorbs information encountered through various opportu-nities. These opportunities are utilized to expand his cognitive-linguisticscope by expanding his vocabulary, learning new meta-linguistic concepts or learning a new language itself.
Individuals with a delay, deviance or trauma during, or, after any stage of language development, require timely assessment and early intervention in the domains of oral motor abilities, speech (resonance, fluency, articula-tion, and voice), language, literacy,auditory skills, social-communication skills, cognitive-communication skills and AAC (Alternative and Augmentative Communication).
Standardised assessment tools direct a speech-language pathologist towards an accurate diagnosis. This diagnosis thereafter can serve other allied professionals in their course of intervention. Results from assessment tools helps an SLP initiate intervention targeting specific goals, that can be explicitly communicated to the clients and their families for a better prognosis through home practice. During the intervention program, timely assessment help an SLP chart out updated goals and gives a clear picture of the effectiveness of the intervention program adopted.