Most likely if you are reading this post it might be a bit of a scary time for you and your family. Perhaps you recently began to develop some concerns regarding your child’s Speech and Language Development. Perhaps a doctor, Early Interventionist, or friend recommended you look into Speech and Language for your child since they noticed a delay in their communication skills. On this page I’ll try to address some of the 101’s of Speech and Language Therapy to make the process a little less scary.
Speech vs. Language
How we communicate with one another is very complex. We speak with words and use gestures and body language to convey our message to others. Your child may be experiencing a delay in Speech, in Language, or in both.
Speech is considered the sounds of language that we piece together into words. Things such as reduced sound inventory; meaning your child is only making some of the sounds they should be making; or articulation errors; trouble making specific sounds; may require Speech Therapy. Speech also targets the use of our voice and the fluency / rhythm of what we are saying.
Language is how words are built together to create phrases and more complex sentence structures. It encompasses word and their meanings, how words are modified to be used appropriately (e.g. fast / faster / fastest), and understanding which words to use when to convey our message.
Receptive vs. Expressive
Receptive Language is the label for what we are able to understand. If your child has trouble following simple one step directions (e.g. give me, put on, go get), trouble identifying familiar people or objects when labeled, then they may have a receptive language delay. If your child struggles to understand the meanings of words and how these words go together, then they may have a Receptive Language Delay.
Expressive Language is the label for what your child is able to communicate to others. Expressive language includes how well your child is able to communicate their wants and needs as well as refusal. Expressive language includes gestures and body language. If your child struggles to communicate their message they may have an Expressive Language Delay. If your child struggles to combine words and thoughts into cohesive statements and follow grammar rules they may have an Expressive Language Delay.
There are many terms that are used when describing a child’s speech and language development. It is important to learn and understand these terms. These terms will be used by your child’s doctors, therapists, and in school IEP Meetings. Once you learn the terminology you will better be able to understand what is being said about your child’s development.
There is always a learning curve when participating in something new. If you do find yourself in a situation where your child’s speech and language development is being discussed and a term is used that you are unfamiliar with push yourself to stop the conversation and ask for clarification. The more you know the better you are able to advocate for your child’s needs!