Understanding Speech & Language Disorders


    A speech disorder (also called “articulation”) would make a child’s speech sounds (r, s, l, ch, etc.) different from other children. Examples include:

    • “won” instead of “run”
    • “thun” instead of “sun”
    • “wady instead of “lady”


    Language is different from articulation. Many of the students who receive services for “speech” are actually receiving services for language disabilities. Language is a code made up of a group or rules.


    Some children with language disorders have problems expressing themselves in speech. They don’t know the rules of language to share their thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely. Their disorder is called, therefore, a developmental expressive language disorder. This disorder can take many forms including:

    • Delayed vocabulary
    • Inability to initiate conversation
    • Weak grammar skills
    • Poor writing skills
    • Inability to categorize objects
    • Difficulty defining word meaning
    • Word finding difficulties
    • Inability to complete sentences


    Some children have trouble understanding certain aspects of language; this is called a receptive language disorder. Because this is a disorder of understanding language, it can affect reading and math because of the comprehension involved. It may include difficulty with:

    • Following directions
    • Reading comprehension
    • Understanding written/spoken language
    • Auditory processing
    • Sequencing events
    • Visual relationships