Speech Disorder Vs. Language Disorder

My child is having trouble with their SPEECH!

My child is having trouble with their LANGUAGE!

These 2 sentences may appear to mean the same thing, but to a speech pathologist, they are worlds apart. So how do I describe what I am noticing?

What is a language disorder?

Is when a child is having difficulty with using or understanding words, sentences, instructions and questions. Their difficulty has to do with WHAT they are saying and understanding. Examples may include having trouble using pronouns – “he, she, her, him, herself” or understanding location words like “behind, in front, under”.

What is a speech disorder?

Is when a child has difficulty saying the correct sounds in words. Their difficulty has to do with HOW they are saying the words. Examples may include saying ‘tat’ when they mean ‘cat’, or saying their ‘s’ sound with a slushy quality (this is called a lisp).

It is expected that children’s speech will have errors and will be different from how an adult would it. Speech sounds develop generally in a regular pattern, for instance, you learn sounds like ‘p’ and ‘b’ before you learn how to correctly say sounds like ‘ch’ and ‘th’.

When should I get help?

Don’t wait and see. A language/speech disorder will not go away and your child will not ‘grow out of it’. It’s important to get help as soon as you can. Please follow the link for a quick screener for preschool-aged children.