Archive for May, 2009

What is the difference between Speech and Language?

Often, when parents first contact me with concerns about their child’s communication, it is important for us to differentiate between speech and language.  For most people, speech and language are synonyms, used interchangeably to describe “talking.”  For a speech-language pathologist, it is important to clarify a parent’s concern as being primarily related to “speech” or “language” prior to an evaluation.

In general, speech refers to the actual production, or articulation, of sounds by the mouth.  If you are concerned about your child’s speech, you may be more concerned with how your child is speaking, rather than what he or she is actually saying.  He or she may be very difficult to understand and use many different patterns of sounds or have difficulty with producing only one or two sounds (such as /s/ or /r/).  When we talk about speech, we are referring to the actual sounds, rhythm or voice your child is using.

Language refers to what your child is saying.  Often, I ask if a parent is concerned with the words the child is using.  For example, how does your child put words into sentences, use grammar or different forms of words such as plurals or -ing verbs?  If your concerns have more to do with the sentence structure or the way your child is creating phrases and sentences, rather than the sounds he or she is using, your concerns may primarily be about his language. (Please note, in this example, we are talking about expressive language needs which often co-occur with receptive language or comprehension needs.)

For more information about the difference between speech and language, please visit my website at


May 27, 2009 at 11:55 pm Leave a comment

May is Better Speech, Language and Hearing Month!

Hooray!  May is Better Speech, Language and Hearing Month!

Although it is important to think about developing and protecting our speech, language and listening skills all year round, here are some ideas and websites you can use with your children in to celebrate this month!  Visit for more information.

  • Protect Your Ears! A recent poll reported more than half of all high school students experienced symptoms of early hearing loss likely due to the increased use of portable and personal electronics.  Encourage your child to turn down the volume and replace in-the-ear earphones with headphones worn outside of the ear. Visit for more information and fun activities.
  • Take Care of Your Voice! It is important to stay hydrated and avoid excessive abuse to your voice, especially during allergy season.  Aim to drink eight glasses of water a day and encourage your child to refrain from yelling and over exertion of his or her voice.
  • Play language games and sing songs in the car or when spending quality time together!  Songs such as the “Name Game Song” encourage sound awareness and development of rhyme.  Language games such as I Spy promote vocabulary growth and the Picnic Game (Mom is going on a picnic and she is bringing apple pie, Dad is bringing sandwiches and I am bringing…) promote memory and develop language processing.

May 3, 2009 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment


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