Speech and Language » Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the difference between speech and language?

Speech and language, while both areas of focus for a Speech Pathologist, are very different.  Speech is defined as the production of sounds in words.  Language is defined as words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them so they are understood by a community.

  1. What does a Speech Pathologist do?

A Speech Pathologist is responsible for screening, diagnosing, and treating disorders in the following areas:   articulation, language, voice, fluency, and auditory processing.

  1. What is a language disorder?

A language disorder is difficulty expressing one's thoughts or understanding another's message.

  1. My child has difficulty producing different sounds; does he need speech therapy?

Speech sounds are developmental in nature and are not considered disordered until a child reaches a certain age.  The following is an acquisition chart which illustrates sound mastery.

Age in years                                        Consonant Sounds

3-4                                                       p,b,n,w,h

4 1/2                                                    t,d,n,k,g,ng,y

5 1/2                                                    f

6 1/2                                                    v,sh,zh,l,th(voiced)

7 1/2-8                                                 s,z,r,th,ch,j,wh, and blends

  1. Why does my child have difficulty answering "wh" questions and following verbal directions?

Children who demonstrate difficulty with "wh" questions or following verbal directions should have their hearing tested.  If the results do not indicate a hearing loss, they may be showing some signs of auditory processing problems.  Processing auditory information requires more than just a good listener.  Your child may have yet to develop effective listening for a purpose and may not be able to adapt listening strategies to the demands of a situation.  Children process auditory information in a variety of ways through listening, speaking, and reasoning abilities.  A breakdown in any one of these processes could lead to a difficulty in comprehending auditory information.

  1. My child's voice is hoarse.  Should I be concerned?

A child should always be evaluated by an ear, nose, and throat specialist prior to any speech evaluation.

  1. My child stutters; should he receive speech and language therapy?

Depending on the age of the child he may or may not exhibit a true fluency disorder; he may be displaying normal speech dysfluency.  It is recommended that you contact your school's Speech and Language Pathologist or classroom teacher.

  1. What is the first step if I suspect my child has a speech and language problem?

 If you suspect your child is demonstrating an articulation disorder, refer to the above sound acquisition chart.  If your child is not producing age-appropriate speech sounds contact your school's Speech and Language Pathologist or classroom teacher.

If you suspect your child is exhibiting a disorder of another nature contact your school's Speech and Language Pathologist.  Through an informal interview and screening it will be determined if a formal evaluation is necessary at that time.

  1. Can a speech and language problem affect my child's progress in the classroom?

Depending on the severity of the disorder, an articulation and/or language problem can negatively impact a child academically and/or socially in the classroom and within the community.

  1. How are children typically identified for speech and language services?

Elementary students are informally screened at the end of their first grade year.  Those children who are suspected of exhibiting a speech and/or language disorder will be re-screened in the fall of their second grade year.  At that time it will be determined if a complete evaluation is necessary.  Teachers and parents may also request an informal screening throughout the school year.