Little Leaps Group Therapy transitioning to year-round school: What you should know
March 28, 2017
The Difference between Speech and Language
May 1, 2015
A couple of posts ago, we discussed early developmental and communication milestones. Whew. That was a lot of information! While it was probably helpful to gain a better, basic understanding of communication development, it may have been a bit overwhelming to take it all in. So, in this post, we’ll break it down a little bit more. That post left you with some activities to do and vocabulary to use during every day routines. We also reminded you to NOT panic if you suspect your child may be a little delayed. If you still aren’t quite sure, this information will take you into more detail.
There are MANY aspects of Speech and Language that most people don’t realize. Speech and Language disorders can be found as young as birth, well into old age. Newborns who have difficulty sucking and swallowing often fall into this category, as do adults recovering from strokes, head injuries, and the like. These disorders can have both medical and educational impacts, but we’ll save that explanation for later. Here, we want to outline the basic disorders that may pertain to your child. Occasionally referred to as speech disorders, other times as language disorders, and sometimes both, it can get confusing.
A speech disorder? “My child can talk just fine,” you may say. And, you are probably right. The next question may be, “Yes, he does. But does it make sense? Can he follow directions? Does he have an appropriate vocabulary?” Oh……those are SPEECH disorders too? Yes. They are.
Articulation: Articulation is the stereotypical speech disorder. Most people hear the word “speech” and their mind goes here. A child who says “wabbit” instead of “rabbit,” or who may use a “b” sound instead of a “v” sound, would quite possibly have an articulation disorder. That being said, there are age norms for each sound. While these are obviously not set in stone, it is a good guideline as to what sounds are appropriate (or not) for your child to be mispronouncing. There are also variations in these, because every child is different.
Age 2/3: b d h m n p
Age 3/4: f g k ing d t w
Age 4/5: kw ch j sh y s v
Age 5/6: z r r blends l blends
Age 6/7: th s blends
Speech Intelligibility: Speech intelligibility goes hand in hand with articulation. Typically, it is described in terms of the percentage of a child’s speech, which is understood. There is also the factor of familiar listeners (parents/siblings/Grandparents) versus unfamiliar listeners (strangers, new teachers, extended family, etc.) It is quite possible for your child to have some articulation errors but their intelligibility be perfect. Often, that is what the focus needs to be more on.
Fluency: This is “stuttering.” Usually characterized by excessive repeating of words or partial words, holding out a sound for longer than it should be, getting stuck in between words, or adding “fillers” in such as uh, ah, or other sounds.
Voice: Voice disorders are relatively uncommon compared to the other ones we’ve been discussing, especially in children. Keeping it simple, these disorders include unusual characteristics of the voice (harsh, raspy, breathy) or may have some sort of physical manifestation (ulcer, nodule, etc.) on the actual vocal fold itself. Pediatricians and Ear, Nose, Throat Doctors are often heavily involved in the treatment and diagnosis of voice disorders.
Language: Language disorders can be missed if not understood. Many people are not aware that they exist! These disorders can be split into Receptive and Expressive Delays and children could have just one or both.
-Receptive Language: Following directions, identifying objects and pictures, demonstrating understanding of what is said to them, understanding basic concepts(adjectives, sizes, quantity) and comprehending stories, etc.
-Expressive Language: Using age appropriate vocabulary, responding to questions appropriately, using proper grammar, speaking coherently, etc.
Auditory Processing: AP is usually diagnosed by an Audiologist, who uses a variety of assessments in a sound treated room. This diagnosis is related to difficulties with the Central Nervous System processes auditory information. It is sometimes confused with Receptive Language Disorders but AP is not typically investigated until AT LEAST age 7.
These disorders are not commonly treated within the speech and language therapy realm, but can be. Not all Speech Therapists have the necessary training to remediate a reading disability, though it many times will go hand in hand with language disorders. Similarly, phonological awareness difficulties are often remediated within an educational setting, but bare resemblance to articulation disorders.
In the future, be on the lookout for a post on resources and “What to do next?”