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Characteristics of Speech or Language Impairments

The characteristics of speech or language impairments will vary depending upon the type of impairment involved. There may also be a combination of several problems.

When a child has an articulation disorder, he or she has difficulty making certain sounds. These sounds may be left off, added, changed, or distorted, which makes it hard for people to understand the child.

Leaving out or changing certain sounds is common when young children are learning to talk, of course. A good example of this is saying "wabbit" for "rabbit." The incorrect articulation isn't necessarily a cause for concern unless it continues past the age where children are expected to produce such sounds correctly.

Fluency refers to the flow of speech. A fluency disorder means that something is disrupting the rhythmic and forward flow of speech-usually, a stutter. As a result, the child's speech contains an abnormal number of repetitions, hesitations, prolongations, or disturbances. Tension may also be seen in the face, neck, shoulders, or fists.

Voice is the sound that's produced when air from the lungs pushes through the voice box in the throat (also called the larnyx), making the vocal folds within vibrate. From there, the sound generated travels up through the spaces of the throat, nose, and mouth, and emerges as our "voice."

Language has to do with meanings, rather than sounds. A language disorder refers to an impaired ability to understand and/or use words in context. A child may have an expressive language disorder (difficulty in expressing ideas or needs), a receptive language disorder (difficulty in understanding what others are saying), or a mixed language disorder (which involves both).

Some characteristics of language disorders include:

  • improper use of words and their meanings,
  • inability to express ideas,
  • inappropriate grammatical patterns,
  • reduced vocabulary, and
  • inability to follow directions.

Children may hear or see a word but not be able to understand its meaning. They may have trouble getting others to understand what they are trying to communicate. These symptoms can easily be mistaken for other disabilities such as autism or learning disabilities, so it's very important to ensure that the child receives a thorough evaluation by a certified speech-language pathologist.

Contact Our Office

If your child is experiencing possible speech and language problems Contact us by email or call us at 714-602-1498 or 866-781-7723 (toll free) for more information.

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2 Comments

Where are the Child Find offices in Los Angeles, Califoria. My child who is 2 is experiencing problems which speech, articulation, and vocabulary. Where do I go to have her assessed.

Depending on where you reside, your school district of residence is under a mandate to provide special education assessment based on evidence of the need for such. If you believe your child might require special education assessment and they are going to be 3 years of age, make a written, dated and signed request for an assessment to your school district of residence. If the child is not going to be three years of age for some time, you may seek out the local regional center for possible assistance. Hope this help! - Eli

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Augustin Egelsee L.L.P.
8141 East Kaiser Boulevard
Suite 315
Anaheim Hills, CA 92808

Toll Free: 866-781-7723
Phone: 714-602-1498
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