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Speech and Language disorder

Updated: May 4, 2022

Speech and language disorders are when a person cannot easily choose the right words and constructing sentences. People with this disability can have struggles understanding what others are saying or may not be able to express their thoughts in words; in some cases, people can live with both. People who live with a language disorder may only know some core words which can result in short or incomplete sentences that have some grammatical errors. Someone with a language disorder may not be able to follow conversations well and can have difficulties understanding inflections on humour; whereas comparatively their peers talk easily and tell stories and jokes to each other. This struggle with communication can lead to two-word sentences and avoiding answering simple questions, because of lack of confidence or understanding. For parents with children who have a language disorder the first effective is to immerse themselves in information available regarding speech and language issues. Below we have some further information regarding speech and language disorders and resources available for parents to access to support their children navigate them.

Speech and language disorders can make it difficult for a child to understand the conversations of others and impact their ability to express thoughts and feelings through speech. Creating meaningful friendships and connections can be a challenge for a child who is navigating as language disorder due to barrier in communication styles with their peers. Having a child that is working through a from language disorder is not uncommon and you are not alone. There are a multitude of resources available to parents and caregivers to be able to support their child(ren) accordingly.

Types of language disorders

There are three types of language disorders:

  • Receptive language disorder: Where the child has difficulty understanding what others are saying.

  • Speech Disorder: The child is unable to express his or her thoughts and ideas clearly.

  • Mixed Speech Disorder: The child has difficulty understanding communication and expressing their speech.

Children with developmental language disorders often start speaking later than their peers. This delay has no correlation with the child's intelligence. In fact, children with developmental language disorders usually have moderate to high IQ. A child usually has some difficulty with the acquired skills before the age of four.


Experts are not aware of the cause of speech and language disorders in children. A study focusing on a wider range of speech and language deficits which also includes speech and language disorders, suggests several possible as following:

Genetics and heredity: 20-40% of children with a family history of speech and language deficits develop this type of speech disorder in children, while the prevalence of language disorders among children without a family history is about 4%.

Some of the other conditions that speech and language disorders can be alongside (but not exclusively) are Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome & Intellectual Disability

Characteristics of speech and language disorders in children

Difficulty communicating is the most common sign of a language disorder. Children with language disorders can have limited understanding of what others are saying. Additionally, the child struggle with receiving and processing information, causing difficulty in completing tasks given.

Early detection of speech and language disorders can be difficult as children do not often being to communicate in sentences until they are two years of age. The child may have some speech at the age of three, but it can be difficult to understand what is being said and the speech problem persists until preschool. For example, some children will understand the story being told to them, but will not be able to retell it, even in simple language. Other signs of expressive language disorder include:

  • Limited vocabulary compared to children of the same developmental age

  • The child constantly saying words such as ‘oh’ and replaces commonplace words with words like ‘thing’.

  • The child does not easily learn new words.

  • Skips keywords and confuses verb tenses.

  • Repeats certain phrases over and over when speaking.

  • Experiences frustration when trying to communicate with others.

  • The child has limited communication with others, but understands what others are saying.

  • The child can pronounce sounds and words, but his sentences are often difficult to understand.

  • The child uses limited grammatical structures when speaking.

Strategies for improving speech and language disorders in children include the following:

Engaging with private speech therapy- A speech therapist works with the child and their parent/ caregivers to support the child’s speech and understanding of language through a range of strategies and interventions. Often there is activities for the parents to practice at home with the child to further develop their speech and communication skills.

If the child is exhibiting emotional distress (e.g. lack of confidence and self-esteem), or speech delays as a result of trauma working alongside a psychologist can also be beneficial.

Role of Tibii team at in-home support

Tibii support workers can support your child to improve their language skills at home through their heart centre model care.

We do this through ample communication and talking with your child utilizing song and playing music. We also have a focus on communication; an example of this is talking to him/her about what they see while driving or shopping expands their vocabulary and meaning of words. Authentic listening to your child and giving the child time to respond with their answer, and not completing sentences for them.

Additionally, we use reading as an interactive experience: Talk to your child about picture books, let the child create a new ending for the story, or tell the story with a doll. Read books to your child and rehearse children's songs with them.


Biddle AK, Watson LR, Hooper CR, Lohr KN, Sutton SF. Criteria for determining disability in speech-language disorders. Evidence Report/technology Assessment (Summary). 2002 Jan(52):1-4. PMID: 15523744.

Prelock, P. A., Hutchins, T., & Glascoe, F. P. (2008). Speech-Language Impairment: How to Identify the Most Common and Least Diagnosed Disability of Childhood. The Medscape Journal of Medicine, 10(6), 136.


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