Understanding language is also known as Receptive Language or Comprehension of Language. It means being able to extract the meaning of the word or words heard and interpret them within the context of their environment, including understanding visual and nonverbal cues also, e.g. Mum says ‘Put on your shoes’ while she has her coat on and the car keys in her hand or in class, when the teacher says, ‘Get your lunch and line up’ while pointing to where the lunches are.
In the learning environment, children are expected to follow instructions given by the Teacher and understand the routine of the environment. This can be difficult for many children and especially for children with ASD with associated language impairments. Understanding language is the access route to learning within the school environment, therefore difficulties with this impacts on a child’s ability to understand the routine and language of the classroom, follow instructions, both single instructions and sequences, communicate and interact with peers and the teachers, behave appropriately, engage and complete academic tasks, ask and answer questions and learn subject-specific vocabulary.