SE–Speech & Language Therapy

Speech & Language Therapy

What are Speech and Language Impairments?

Speech or language impairments are communication disorders such as stuttering, impaired articulation, language impairment or voice impairment that adversely affects a student’s educational performance.

Please call your child’s home school and ask to speak with the speech-language therapist if you have any questions or comments.

Articulation/Phonology Disorder

1. What is articulation/ phonology?

Articulation is the actions of the organs of speech that modify the breath stream resulting in speech sounds. Phonology is the study of linguistic rules governing the sound system of the language, including speech sounds, speech sound production, and the combination of sounds in meaningful utterances.

2. What are the characteristics of an articulation/ phonology disorder?

Abnormal productions of speech sounds consisting of substitutions of one sound for another, omission of sounds, and/ or sounds distortions.

Phonological processes are patterned modifications of speech sound productions away from the standard adult productions. Phonological processes usually simplify syllable structures or phoneme classes.

3. Developmental Articulation Age Guidelines:

Speech Sounds
Age of 90% Mastery

Age Male Female
3-0 ~ 3-11 m, n, h, w, p, b, t, d, k m, n, h, w, p, b, d, k, g
4-0 ~ 4-11 g, f y, t, voiced th, f
5-0 ~ 5-11 y, v v, l
6-0 ~ 6-11 l unvoiced th, sh, ch, j
7-0 ~ 7-11 voiced th, s, z, sh, ch, j ng, s, z
8+ r, unvoiced th, ng r

Language Disorder

1. What is language?

There are 3 areas of language: pragmatics, semantics, and syntax/morphology. Semantics is the study of words and the meaning of words. Examples are concepts, object function, categories, etc. Pragmatics is the practical application of language; the ability to comprehend language and communicate with others. Syntax is the application of grammatical rules in language. Examples are pronouns, word order, sentence structure, etc. Morphology is the study of the smallest units of meaning in a language, for example the plural [s], and how these units affect word meaning.

2. What are the characteristics of a language disorder/delay?

Children who do not develop language skills appropriately are language delayed or disordered. Causes for a language delay/ disorder include: hearing impairment, cognitive impairments, autism, physical handicap that prevents the child from interacting with their environment, and lack of stimulation. Often, there is no identifiable cause for language disorder.

Children can have receptive language impairments, expressive language impairments or both. Language disorders are changeable; at different stages of development children have different demands on their language systems. Receptive language impairments mean that a child has difficulty understanding language. They may have limited vocabulary. They may not understand the meaning of word endings: that adding “s” makes a noun plural, or “s” indicates possession, or that an “ed” ending on a verb means that the action is past. They may have difficulty understanding nonverbal signals, like body language. They may not understand sarcasm, or indirect requests (e.g., “it’s cold in here” can mean please close the window”).

Expressive language impairments show up in how a child speaks. They may use only a few words in each sentence. They may leave off word endings, or the little words like “is” and “are”. They may not know the names of many words. They may not always use language appropriately and appear to be rude by being too direct or blunt. They might not consider their partner’s needs, using ambiguous referents (lots of “he”, “she” and “it” when the subject has not been clearly identified), or changing topics abruptly.

Remember that receptive language is usually slightly ahead of expressive language. If a child is speaking in 2 word utterances, he/she is probably able to fully understand 3 word utterances.

Fluency Disorder

What is fluency?

Fluency is the flow of speech. Fluent speech is smooth, forward-moving, unhesitant and effortless speech. A “dysfluency” is any break in fluent speech. Everyone has dysfluencies from time to time. “Stuttering” is speech that has more dysfluencies than is considered average.

Everyone has dysfluencies in their speech. The average person will have between 7-10% of their speech dysfluent. These dysfluencies are usually word or phrase repetitions, fillers (urn, ah) or interjections. When a speaker experiences dysfluencies at a rate greater than 10% they may be stuttering. Stuttering is often accompanied by tension and anxiety. The types of dysfluencies in stuttering may also be different. Sound or syllable repetitions, silent “blocks”, prolongations (unnatural stretching out of a sound) and facial grimaces or tics can be present.

Many children go through a period of normal nonfluency between the ages of 2 and 5 years of age. The frequency of dysfluency can be greater than 10%. The dysfluencies are usually whole word or phrase repetitions and interjections. The word is repeated just once or twice and is repeated easily. The child does not demonstrate any tension in their speech and is often unaware of their difficulty. It has been suggested that the cause of this nonfluency may be a combination of increases in language development, development of speech motor control, or environmental stresses that can occur in typical busy families. Some children “outgrow” these dysfluencies, others do not.


    • Over three million Americans stutter
    • Stuttering affects four times as many males as females
    • People who stutter are as intelligent and well-adjusted as non-stutterers
    • Despite decades of research, there are no clear-cut answers to the uses of stuttering, but much has been learned about factors which contribute to stuttering
    • There are no instant miracle cures for stuttering. Therapy is not an overnight process
    • Here are some famous people who stutter(ed):

Moses, Aesop, King George VI, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Clara Barton, Lewis Carroll, Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Stewart, Mel Tillis, Anthony Quinn, Winston Churchill, James Earl Jones, Ben Johnson, Bruce Willis, Greg Luganis, John Updike, Carly Simon, Bo Jackson, Bill Walton, Bob Love

Voice Disorder

1. What is a voice disorder?

A voice disorder may be characterized by an abnormality in the student’s vocal quality, pitch, loudness, resonance, or duration. The child’s voice does not sound “right”. Often vocal nodules are present.

2. What qualifies your child for voice therapy?

A student will be considered for voice therapy upon the recommendation of a physician if he/she displays a voice that is abnormal for his/her chronological age, sex, and size.

Progress Reports

Students must master goals and objectives stated in their Individualized Educational Program (IEP). Progress reports are sent home each nine weeks. Progress will be reported by using the following scale:

  • Introduced
  • Emerging
  • Developing
  • Ongoing
  • Demonstrated
  • Applied