What is a Speech and Language Impairment?

A Speech Impairment is caused by difficulty of the brain being able to communicate with the muscles of the mouth in order to create proper speech. This can show up in a wide variety of forms, mostly showing up as a speech impairment that causes the child to be unable to properly form the words with their mouth and jaw. This Impairment does not signify a disability in learning, but a struggle with the regurgitation of information through speech.

Speech Impairments are generally very easy for parents and teachers to discover in students as it shows up daily in their speech, making them difficult to understand or showing an inability to communicate appropriately. For children with Speech Impairments a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) is normally seen on a regular basis at the school by the child in order to work to improve their speech over the course of time. Even though the initial discovery of the Speech Impairment can be fairly easy to see, learning exactly what is needed in order to assist the child in correcting their speech becomes the challenge for an SLP to help the child work through.

A Language Impairment is present for children who display a serious difficulty not only understanding what is said to them, but also in expressing themselves. Children who suffer from Language Impairments often end up confused or frustrated by what is said, because they either don’t understand what was said or aren’t sure what a correct response would be. The main areas of Language Impairment show up as articulation, fluency, voice and language. These are defined below for easier reference, but difficulty in one or all of these areas makes it very difficult for someone with a Language Impairment to feel understood.

Some common characteristics of Language Impairments include:

  • Improper use of words and their meanings
  • Inability to express ideas
  • Inappropriate grammatical patterns
  • Reduced Vocabulary
  • Inability to follow directions

Continued efforts with children who suffer from Language Impairments by use of additional learning and problem solving activities assists these children who can eventually overcome their impairment. In fact, both children who suffer from Speech Impairments and Language Impairments can eventually overcome their impairments and grow to have fluid speech and a full understanding of language.

Areas of Speech and Language:

  • Expressive Language – expressing ideas verbally using appropriate vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure
  • Receptive Language – the comprehension of language; understanding grammar, vocabulary, directions and questions
  • Articulation – how well the child is able to produce sounds in words and sentences
  • Fluency – shows an age appropriate flow of speech
  • Voice – shows an age appropriate pitch, volume or a nasality of the speech