Narrative is the type of expressive language we develop and begin to use that allows us to tell stories or events that have occurred in our lives. It is an important part of our expressive language as it can help form the way we construct our experiences to ourselves and to others.
Children who have difficulty with their narrative skills can often be difficult to understand as they are unable to effectively express their language. Their sentences will often appear mixed up or incoherent.
Our speech and language therapists at SLT for Kids are able to assess a child with narrative difficulties in order to identify each child's needs. The therapist will then use this information to create a treatment programme tailored to the child's needs, considering their goals in order to help the child with their narrative difficulties.
What is narrative?
Narrative can be described as an account of events or the way we tell a story. Narrative can either be in written or in verbal form, but children who have narrative difficulties will often have difficulty with both written and verbal narrative.
Narrative helps us to understand events that have just occurred so we can think logically about what has happened before the event and to allow us to predict what may happen after the event. This can guide us to shape the actions we take. Therefore, narrative acts as a social skill to interact with others, a defence skill as we can explain ourselves and logically think about the actions we are taking and it is a skill that educates us and others.
Narrative begins to develop at around the age of 3 as other language skills develop. A child begins to develop narrative skills as they start to understand other people’s stories and show awareness of how events link with one another. By the age of 7-8 a child should have developed mature narrative skills and will be able to tell a logical story without missing any important information.
Characteristics of narrative difficulties include:
- Short sentences.
- Lack of detail or not enough detail.
- Stories told in an illogical manner e.g. beginning at the end.
- Contradictions throughout the story.
- Reduced vocabulary.
Narrative is an important part of our language as it allows others to understand what we are saying and it allows us to fully express ourselves.
Impact of narrative difficulties on expressive language
Problems with narrative can have an impact on our expressive language and can cause:
- Difficulty sharing experiences.
- Difficulty making friends and maintaining friendships.
- Aggressive non-verbal reactions as they are unable to explain themselves.
Children who have narrative difficulties may deal with this in aggressive ways due to their frustration of not being understood. This can particularly happen in a classroom setting if the child has gotten into trouble that was not their fault, but they were unable to clearly express what has happened. Research shows that many young offenders have narrative difficulties due to their inability to explain or understand consequences of events properly.
It is important that children with narrative difficulties are identified and provided with appropriate speech and language therapy due to the risk associated with aggressive behaviour and not being understood. Our speech and language therapists are able to provide therapy to any children with narrative difficulties to provide them with strategies and management options to help develop this skill.
Speech and language therapy available for narrative difficulties
Our speech and language therapists can provide your child with therapy that is tailored to your child's goals in context of their needs. The speech and language therapists will implement yours and the child's aims into therapy.
Speech and language therapy available includes: