What is a Speech or Language Delay?

speech 01 tnSpeech delay is the failure to develop speech capabilities at the expected chronological age. The child may progress through expected developmental milestones in a sequential order but their progress lags several months behind their typically-developing peers. Speech delay may present as a phonetic delay (articulation delay) or a phonological delay – or the two may co-exist

Because language and speech are two independent stages, they may be individually delayed. For example, a child may be delayed in speech (i.e., unable to produce intelligible speech sounds), but not delayed in language. In this case, the child would be attempting to produce an age appropriate amount of language, but that language would be difficult or impossible to understand. Conversely, since a child with a language delay typically has not yet had the opportunity to produce speech sounds, it is likely to have a delay in speech as well.

Language development has different parts, and children might have problems with one or more of the following:

  • Understanding what others say (receptive language). This could be due to
    • Not hearing the words (hearing loss).
    • Not understanding the meaning of the words.
  • Communicating thoughts using language (expressive language). This could be due to
    • Not knowing the words to use.
    • Not knowing how to put words together.
    • Knowing the words to use but not being able to express them.

speech 06 tnLanguage and speech delays can exist together or by themselves. Examples of problems with language and speech development include the following:

  • Speech disorders
    • Difficulty with forming specific words or sounds correctly.
    • Difficulty with making words or sentences flow smoothly, like stuttering or stammering.
  • Language delay – the ability to understand and speak develops more slowly than is typical
  • Problems that may be experienced can involve grammar (syntax and/or morphology), semantics (meaning), or other aspects of language. These problems may be receptive (involving impaired language comprehension), expressive (involving language production), or a combination of both. Examples include specific language impairment and aphasia, among others. Language disorders can affect both spoken and written language,[1] and can also affect sign language; typically, all forms of language will be impaired.

Information provided by ​American Speech Hearing Association www.asha.org

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