Clearing up the Confusion

Unless you have a child with a speech or language disorder, you may not be aware of the difference between the two.  We’re here to help!  Read below then quiz yourself at the end of the blog.

Speech is the manner in which we communicate verbally.  It’s how we articulate sounds, it’s how our voice sounds (loud, soft, raspy, breathy) and how fluently we speak.  By the time a child is 3 years old, we like for their speech to be understood by others 90-100% of the time.  If the child is difficult to understand we then take a look (or I guess I should say “a listen”) to what sounds they have difficulty articulating.  If the misarticulated sounds are ones they should have developed already, then they may need speech therapy.  Most preschoolers go through a period of time when their speech is disfluent.  By that I mean, they repeat the first word of a sentence or stumble over their words when they speak.  This is considered “normal” in speech development as long as it doesn’t continue for more than six months or increase in severity.  Also some children may have difficulty regulating the volume of their voice, speaking too softly (making it hard for others to hear them) or talking/yelling too loudly (abusing their vocal cords causing their voice to sound raspy or losing their voice).

Language can be broken into two categories:  receptive and expressive.  Receptive language is our comprehension of spoken language.  When someone ask a question we understand and respond appropriately, when given a direction to follow, we know what to do.  Little ones first show comprehension of language when they respond to their name being called and look for their bottle or blankie when they are named.  Expressive language is how we put words together to form sentences.  It includes using appropriate sentence structure and grammar so that others can understand our intent.  Young children may be described as having an expressive language delay if they have a limited vocabulary or aren’t putting words together into 2 word phrases by the age of 2.

So here’s your pop quiz…good luck!

*Johnny whispers most of the time and repeats the first word of every sentence he says.  People joke that his mom is his “interpreter”.  
Johnny has a _______ disorder.
*Janie doesn’t follow directions well.  In fact when you ask her to do something, she just gives you a confused look or completely ignores you.
Janie has a ________ disorder.
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