Speech/language disorders are part of a separate category in IDEA from learning disabilities; however, many children with speech/language disorders also have a diagnosed learning disability and may receive services for both conditions in school.

Source: IDEA, 2004

Definition of Speech

Speech consists of the way we say sounds and words. A child with speech disorders may have trouble with fluency, voice, and/or articulation. It is not uncommon for a child with speech disorders to struggle in more than one of these three areas.


  1. Fluency – disruption in the flow of speech
  • repeats sounds, stuttering
  • pauses  or hesitates when speaking
  • excessive prolongations
  • tension in face, neck, shoulders or fists

2. Voice – disruption in sounds produced when flow of air is pushed through the voice box

  • problems with the pitch, loudness, resonance, or quality of the voice
  • speaks with a raspy or hoarse voice
  • sometimes using voice is painful
  • voice may sound nasal or stuffy

3. Articulation – difficulty in making sounds correctly

  • sounds may be left off, added, changed, or distorted
  • for example, wan instead of ran
  • this is normal until a children are expected to produces correct sounds

A2Z Homeschooling, Speech Language Full explanation of varied types of SLD


It is important to recognize children develop at different rates depending on factors such as older siblings talking for younger ones, minimal talking within the home or day care facility, and perpetual hearing infections. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) provides speech development charts, based on years 0-5, of the types of language development and speech sounds that should appear at the various ages.

After reading through the charts, you may discover that your child’s speech or language is not developing as it should and can seek out a professional evaluation on ASHA website.

Definition of Language

Language consists of the words we use to share ideas and get our needs met. A child with a language disorder may have problems with understanding language, talking, reading, and writing. Although most children can pronounce sounds correctly by age four, children with persistent ear infections will be delayed in pronouncing sounds correctly because they hear them muffled. Therefore, severe ear infections can effect learning to speak as well as learning to read.


Receptive language difficulties (understanding the spoken word)

  • Understanding what people mean when they use gestures, like shrugging or nodding
  • Following directions
  • Processing and answering questions
  • Pointing to objects and pictures when directed
  • Knowing how to take turns when talking with others

Expressive language difficulties (speaking & expressing one’s ideas)

  • Asking questions
  • Naming objects
  • Using gestures
  • Putting words together into coherent sentences
  • Learning songs and rhymes
  • Using correct pronouns, like “he” or “they”
  • Knowing how to start a conversation and keep it going
  • Changing how they talk to different people and in different places. For example, you speak differently to an adult than a young child and louder outside than inside.

TIP: Language Deficits Produce Behavior Problems

When a child has a language deficit and cannot communicate his needs (hunger, pain, desires, thoughts), his options are limited in gaining the attention for others and getting them to understand what he is trying to communicate. Therefore, burst of anger, crying, throwing objects, self-injurious behavior, or hurting others become forms of communication. Rather than continual punishment, it is wise to teach this child other forms of communication until language is achieved. Sign language, assistive technology like iPads, and picture communication systems such as PECS provide a few communication alternatives.


  • Receptive and expressive language problems should be identified as early as pre-school.
  • Diagnosis is made from an evaluation that usually includes tests of intellect, achievement and language.
  • Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), can help identify these problems and provide the appropriate therapy.

Source: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association


Straight Talk is a speech/language program for homeschooling children by NATHHAN

All in One Articulation Program and Materials for children with articulation deficits

Jump Start Your Late Talker  good tool for language delayed children

Speech and Language Therapy Guide, guides for teaching 39 separate speech skills

Films of people with disabilities

Books of people with disabilities

Super Star Therapy, speech therapy at home

Therapies available