What Is a Speech and Language Disorder?
Speech and language disorders can take several forms and sound differently depending on the specific difficulty with which the person is struggling. Speech and language disorders are more common in males and in families with a history of these disorders. Although the prevalence depends on the specific diagnosis, approximately 1%-7% of school-age children are diagnosed with speech and language disorders. These numbers decrease with age.
There are four main types of speech and language disorders:
- Expressive Language Disorder: difficulty talking, or expressing yourself through speech
- Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder: difficulty talking and understanding what others say
- Phonological Disorder: Errors in producing sounds, use of sounds, representation of sounds, or omissions of sounds
- Stuttering: inappropriate fluency and pattern of speech for the person’s developmental level
Some of the characteristics of the above speech and language disorders that you may notice in your or your child’s speech are:
- Difficulty learning new words and using shortened sentences that do not fully express ideas
- Difficulty understanding words, sentences, and specific types of words (especially spatial terms)
- Misarticulation (especially of the letters l, r, s, z, th, and ch) or lisping
- Repetitions of sounds (e.g., “I-I-I need a pencil.”). This may become worse when there is pressure to communicate (e.g. during a presentation).
Speech and language disorders are usually diagnosed by a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, or a speech and language pathologist. Diagnosis occurs through a combination of techniques and includes a clinician, client, parent(s), teacher(s), and significant other(s) if applicable. Observations of how the client communicates at school, work, or home are made by appropriate people, often using structured rating forms. The clinician will conduct an interview with the client to learn about the client’s past and current level of communication. Sometimes, the client will participate in a psychological assessment to determine the difference between the client’s ability and academic achievement. The client will also participate in audiometric testing to determine if he or she suffers from hearing loss that may be affecting his or her problematic speech and language patterns.
For More Information:
Watch Beth Waite-Lafever’s (MA-CCC/SLD-ATP) video, Social Language Disorders, by clicking here.