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Speech 101: The Difference Between Language and Speech Disorders

As a parent, you want to ensure that your child is meeting their developmental milestones, especially when it comes to their communication skills. However, understanding the difference between language and speech disorders can be confusing. Here is some basic information to help you differentiate between the two.

A girl paints a picture at a desk

A language disorder is when a child struggles with either understanding what others are saying or expressing themselves. Receptive language refers to a child's ability to comprehend spoken language, while expressive language is their ability to express their thoughts and ideas through speech. Children with language disorders may have difficulty using grammar, vocabulary, or syntax correctly. They may also have trouble following directions, answering WH questions, or engaging in conversations.

On the other hand, a speech disorder refers to difficulties with producing speech sounds correctly. Children with speech sound disorders may have trouble pronouncing certain sounds, whole groups of sounds, or may stutter when talking. Some speech disorders may be caused by apraxia of speech, which is a motor disorder that makes it difficult for a child to coordinate and carry out the complex muscles movements required to produce sounds. If you notice that your child is struggling with their speech or language skills, it may be time to seek out the assistance of a speech therapist.

Understanding the difference between language and speech disorders can help you identify when your child may need additional support in their communication skills. If you suspect that your child may be experiencing challenges in these areas, it's important to seek out the assistance of a speech therapist who can help your child develop the skills they need to communicate effectively.


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