Different Language Problems
Children with this condition may display a variety of problems with language. If the child displays problems with expressive language, she has problems getting her message out to other people. She may have trouble with semantics or syntax. For example, if the child has problems with semantics, she may not be able to recall a word that she knows. British Columbia’s Ministry of Education gives the example of calling toast “warm bread." If the child has issues with syntax, then she has difficulties creating grammatically correct sentences; for example, she may use the wrong verb form in a sentence. Children with fetal alcohol syndrome may have “cocktail party" conversation. While they may have fluent speech, they do not have content to what they are saying. For example, they may have issues with appropriate responses in a conversation or starting a conversation.
If the child has issues with receptive language, then she has difficulties understanding. Issues with receptive language development due to fetal alcohol syndrome can affect the child’s memory, sequencing, discrimination, comprehension, selective attention, and association and generalization. For example, a child with problems with receptive language may not be able to remember what the teacher said. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes that children with fetal alcohol syndrome have issues with encoding in verbal memory — the processing of information to then recall later — which can result with a receptive language development delay.
Children with this syndrome may also display problems in speech production. Church and Kaltenbach state that in a study with 22 children who had fetal alcohol syndrome, 21 children had significant issues with voice quality, word formation, fluency and articulation. British Columbia’s Ministry of Education notes that articulation problems caused by fetal alcohol syndrome may be identified before the child begins school, though speech and language problems that are more subtle may not be noticed until the child is already in school.