• Definition: A vocal or verbal means of communication or conveying meaning
  • Includes: articulation (speech sounds), stuttering, voice (ex: hoarseness)
  • Speech delays or disorders can result in difficulty being understood and possible frustration for the child


  • Definition: Knowledge of a code for representing ideas about the world through a system of arbitrary signals for communication
  • There are 5 areas of language: semantics (vocabulary), syntax (sentence structure), morphology (small parts, like verb tense & articles), phonology (sounds; most directly relates to literacy), pragmatics (social skills)
  • Receptive language is one’s ability to comprehend a verbal or non-verbal message
  • Expressive language is one’s ability to verbally or non-verbally communicate a message
  • Language delays or disorders can be demonstrated by difficulty answering simple questions, following directions, reduced verbal output, limited vocabulary usage, etc.


In the ASHA Leader (March 2004), the term was defined by an audiologist as: “a deficit in the perceptual processing of auditory information in the central nervous system.” The disorder is characterized by poor performance in one or more basic auditory behaviors or skills, including sound localization and lateralization, auditory performance with competing or degraded acoustic signals, auditory discrimination, auditory pattern recognition, and temporal aspects of audition.”

  • This is diagnosed by an audiologist.
  • Speech-language pathologists treat the language aspects (receptive language/comprehension)

In Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools (April 2004), Alan Kamhi suggests that many children have listening difficulties and that these difficulties are often due to reasons other than auditory (central nervous system) disorders. Specifically, the team should look at all aspects of language:

  • articulation, phonology, phonological awareness
  • morphology (ex: prefixes, suffixes)
  • syntax (sentence structure)
  • semantics (vocabulary)
  • pragmatics (social skills and social competency)


  • Definition: Exchange of information and ideas between participants (ie: child-child, parent-child)
  • Communication problems can be caused by a speech and/or language delay or disorder
  • Children may make developmental errors in speech, language or communication which may not be indicative of a delay or disorder


  • Federal law mandates speech and language services for children starting at age 2 years 9 months be provided without charge in the local public school
  • Another therapeutic choice is home-based and family-centered evaluations and treatment
  • My philosophy for speech and language treatment includes ongoing communication among children, family, teachers, and therapists


The connection between spoken and written language:

  1. Spoken language provides the foundation for development of reading and writing.
  2. Spoken and written language have a reciprocal relationship, such that each builds on the other to result in general language and literacy competence, starting early and continuing through childhood into adulthood.
  3. Children with spoken language problems frequently have difficulty learning to read and write, and children with reading and writing problems frequently have difficulty with spoken language.
  4. Instruction in spoken language can result in growth in written language, and instruction in written language can result in growth in spoken language.

Roles and Responsibilities of SLPs (Speech Language Pathologists) include, but are not limited to:

  1. Preventing written language problems by fostering language acquisition and emergent literacy.
  2. Identifying children at risk for reading and writing problems.
  3. Assessing reading and writing.
  4. Providing intervention and documenting outcomes for reading and writing.
  5. Assuming other roles, such as providing assistance to general education teachers, parents, and students; advocating for effective literacy practices; and advancing the knowledge base.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2001). Roles and responsibilities of speech-language pathologists with respect to reading and writing in children and adolescents[Position Statement]. Available from www.asha.org/policy.

LINEAR vs. CIRCULAR THINKING (Thematic-centered vs Topic-centered Thinking):

Li-Rong Cheng has done extensive research in the multi-cultural arena. I attended a session of hers at the state convention for speech-language pathologists and audiologists. People of Asian, Latino and African-American descent are more likely to be circular or topic-centered thinkers and writers.

Her example: Given the topic, “Why should we recycle newspapers?”

  • People who think in a linear fashion or thematically would likely say something like, “Recycling newspapers is important for the environment. If we continue to cut down trees to make papers, forests will be depleted, animals will be endangered, landfills will continue to overflow” etc. “so we should recycle.”
  • In comparison, those who think in a circular fashion or topically, would likely say something like, “My grandfather loved trees. Trees are so beautiful.” You, the listener/reader, must make your own conclusion. Of course, if someone talks about how much they like trees, you can conclude that they think recycling is important.