Speech or Language?

Speech? . . . Language? . . . What’s the difference?

Some people think that speech and language therapists work on elocution, or help children to get rid of lisps.

In fact, our work is much more varied. Some children have difficulties with their speech, some with their language. Often, children have problems in both areas.

As a simple guide, SPEECH has to do with the sounds we make when we are saying words. A speech and language therapist will look at whether a child is using a wide range of speech sounds and whether they are being used correctly in words.

Speech difficulties can include:

  • Articulation difficulties – for instance the child is unable to say a ’l’ sound or a ‘c/k’ sound;

  • Phonology difficulties – for instance the child can say the correct sounds on their own, but gets the sounds mixed up when talking;

  • Childhood Apraxia of Speech – when the child may be able to say sounds on their own, but has difficulties co-ordinating a string of sounds in order to put them together into words;

  • Cleft lip and/or palate – where the structure of the child’s mouth may make it hard for them to say the correct sounds.

LANGUAGE has to do with the way words are put together to make meaningful sentences. A speech and language therapist will look at a child’s ability to understand words in sentences (receptive language), and their ability to use words in sentences (expressive language).

Language difficulties can include:

  • Problems understanding what is being said by others;

  • Problems using words and sentences.

Other difficulties may include:

  • Autistic spectrum disorder;

  • Stammering;

  • Selective mutism

  • Speech and language difficulties associated with a hearing loss.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure where your child’s difficulties lie. Assessments carried out during the initial assessment will determine what type of difficulties your child is having.