A speech-language disability is an impairment in the areas of articulation, fluency, voice or language that adversely affect educational performance. Speech is how you say something. Language is what you say or understand.
Speech Disorders may involve:
- Omissions – Sounds in words and sentences may be completely omitted
- Substitutions – An incorrect sound may be substituted for the correct one.
- Distortions – An attempt is made at the correct sound but it results in a poor production.
- Additions – Extra sounds or syllables are added to the word.
- Difficulty with the physical production of individual speech sounds.
- Incorrect placement of the lips, teeth, tongue or even the soft palate during speech, results in inaccurate production of certain sounds.
- Able to produce a given sound correctly but does not use it appropriately in some contexts.
- An interruption in the flow of speaking characterized by atypical rate, rhythm, and repetitions in sounds, syllables, words, and phrases.(Stuttering, Cluttering)
- An abnormal production and/or absences of vocal quality, pitch, loudness, resonance, and/or duration, which is inappropriate for an individual’s age and/or sex.
Causes of Speech Impairments
- Organic – Attributable to damage, dysfunction, or malformation of a specific organ or part of the body.
- Functional – Cannot be ascribed to a specific physical condition, and its origin is not clearly known.
- Receptive Language Impairment – difficulty understanding language. The difficulty may be in the word level and/or the sentence level.
- Expressive Language Impairment – difficulty with the production of language that adequately represents the child’s intended message and may include problems with word retrieval, word use, sentences formation, or conversational skills.
Causes of Language Disorders
- Cognitive limitations or mental retardation
- Hearing impairments
- Behavioral disorders
- Structural abnormalities of the speech mechanism
- Environmental deprivation
- A little more than 2% of school-age children receive special education for speech and language impairments
- Approximately 50% of the children who receive special education services for another disability also have communication disorders
- Nearly twice as many boys as girls have speech impairments
Identification and Assessment
In some school districts, speech-language pathologists screen the spoken abilities of all kindergarten children. Classroom teachers also play an important role in identifying children who may have speech and language impairments.
The speech-language pathologist (SLP) is the school-based professional with the primary responsibility for identifying, evaluating, and providing therapeutic services to children with communication disorders.