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Speech? Language? Is there a difference?

What is Speech?


Speech refers to how we say sounds and put them together in words. People often use the word articulation to refer to speech. Children may substitute one sound for another, leave out a sound or have problems saying certain sounds clearly. Speech involves the use of the lungs, lips, tongue, jaw and throat as well as an understanding of the sound system and speech rules of our language. As the body grows and develops certain speech errors are age-appropriate for a given age. However, multiple sound errors, particular sound substitutions or irregular sound patterns may impact a child’s ability to communicate and learn and will warrant intervention. Speech disorders may be referred to or associated with:

Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Phonological Disorder

Articulation Disorder

Craniofacial Anomalies


What is Language?

Language refers to what we speak, write, read and understand. Language is also communicating through gestures, body language, tone of voice and facial expression. There are two distinct areas of language:

Receptive Language – What we hear and understand from other’s speech. People often use the word comprehension to refer to receptive language. Deficits in receptive language may include difficulties with understanding vocabulary terms, following directions and answering questions. Receptive language is largely impacted by Auditory Memory (the ability to take in information that is presented orally, process it, retain in one’s mind and then recall it).

Expressive Language – What we generate to create messages that others will understand. People often think of expressive language as spoken language, although we are capable of expressing ourselves in various ways (e.g. gestures etc.) Deficits in expressive language may include word retrieval difficulties, formulating accurate and detailed sentences, asking and answering questions.


Language Disorders may be referred to or associated with:

Specific Language Impairment

Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder

Language-based Learning Disorder

Developmental Language Disorder

Auditory Processing Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder



**Your child may be working on one or all of the above areas in speech and language therapy

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