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Speech & Language Disorders

Language/Speech impaired means a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language problem, or a voice impairment, which adversely affects a child’s educational performance.  Children with language and/or speech impairments have disorders which interfere with or limit, to varying degrees, the child’s ability to receive, interpret, formulate, or express oral language.

A child’s communication is considered delayed when the child is noticeably behind his or her peers in the acquisition of speech and/or language skills.  Sometimes a child will have greater receptive (understanding) than expressive (speaking) language skills, but this is not always the case.

Speech disorders refer to difficulties producing speech sounds or problems with voice quality.  They might be characterized by an interruption in the flow or rhythm of speech, such as stuttering, which is called dysfluency.  Speech disorders may be problems with the way sounds are formed, called articulation disorders, or they may be difficulties with the pitch, volume, or quality of the voice.  There may be a combination of several problems.  People with speech disorders have trouble using some speech sounds, which can also be a symptom of a delay.  They may say “see” when they mean “ski” or they may have trouble using other sounds like “l” or “r.”  Listeners may have trouble understanding what someone with a speech disorder is trying to say.  People with voice disorders may have trouble with the way their voices sound.

A language disorder is an impairment in the ability to understand and/or use words in context, both verbally and nonverbal.  Some characteristics include:

--  Improper use of words and their meanings
--  Inability to express ideas
--  Inappropriate grammatical patterns
--  Reduced vocabulary
--  Inability to follow directions


One or a combination of these characteristics may occur in children who are affected by language learning disabilities or developmental language delay.  Children may hear or see a word but not be able to understand its meaning.  They have trouble getting others to understand what they are trying to communicate.

Educational Implications
Because all communication disorders carry the potential to isolate individuals from their social and educational surroundings, it is essential to find appropriate timely surroundings, it is essential to find appropriate timely intervention.  While many speech and language patterns can be called “baby talk” and are part of a young child’s normal development, they can become problems is they are not outgrown as expected.  In this was an initial delay in speech an language or an initial speech pattern can become a disorder which can cause difficulties in learning.  Because of the way the brain develops, it is easier to learn language and communication skills before the age of five.  When children have muscular disorders, hearing problems or developmental delays, their acquisition of speech, language, and related skills is often affected.


For additional information visit:



Early Identification and Treatment of
ADHD * Autism Spectrum Disorders * Speech/Language Disorders

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