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Say What?

Written By: Kaitlin Bednarz M.S. CCC-SLP

Let’s pretend you just had your first speech and language evaluation and you heard words being thrown around such as articulation, receptive language, pragmatics, etc! Were you thinking, “What do all of these words mean?” If your answer was “yes”, don’t worry, you’re not alone and we are here to help! Let’s take a deeper dive into what these terms mean and how it relates to your child’s speech and language development!

Communication disorder: impairment in the ability to receive, send, process, and comprehend concepts or verbal, nonverbal and graphic symbol systems.

Speech disorder: impairment of the articulation of speech sounds, fluency and/or voice.

  • Articulation disorder: atypical production of speech sounds. This may include substitutions, omissions, additions or distortions that may interfere with the person’s intelligibility.

  • Phonological Disorder: Error patterns the child may use when learning sounds from adults

  • Fluency disorder: interruption in the flow of speaking. Disfluency characteristics include atypical rate, rhythm, and repetitions in sounds, syllables, words, and phrases.

  • Voice disorder: abnormal production and/or absences of vocal quality, pitch, loudness, resonance, and/or duration.

  • Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS): a neurological childhood disorder in which the child has difficulties with precision and consistency of movements of speech sounds.

Language disorder: impaired comprehension and/or use of spoken, written and/or other symbol systems.

  • Expressive Language Disorder: Difficulties with sharing and expressing thoughts and feelings (i.e., asking questions, naming objects, putting words in a sentence, etc).

  • Receptive Language Disorder: Difficulties understanding (identifying objects, following directions, understand what others are saying)

  • Pragmatic Disorder: Difficulties with the social use of language and the rules we follow when talking to others (i.e., greetings, conversation skills, etc).

Hopefully these definitions help you to better understand your child's speech and language skills and/or diagnosis!

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (1993). Definitions of communication disorders and variations [Relevant Paper]. Available from

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