Speech and language impairments
Some children do not develop speech and language as expected. They may
experience difficulties with any or all aspects of speech and language –
from moving the muscles which control speech to the ability to
understand or use language at all. These difficulties can range from the
mild to the severe and long-term.
Sometimes these difficulties are unrelated to any other difficulty or
disorder – they are therefore said to be specific language difficulties.
Some children may have both a specific language difficulty and other
Education and participation in society depend upon the ability to
communicate. It is vital that children with speech and language
impairments are offered comprehensive help as early as possible.
Different forms of speech and language impairment
• speech apparatus – the mouth, tongue, nose, breathing and how they are
co-ordinated and operated by muscles
• phonology – the sounds that make up language
• syntax or grammar – the way that words and parts of words combine in
phrases and sentences
• semantics – the meaning of sentences, words, and bits of words
(semantic and pragmatic disorders)
• pragmatics – how language is used in different situations and how
feelings are conveyed (semantic and pragmatic disorders)
• intonation and stress (prosody) – the rhythm and music of the way we
Within these areas some children may have difficulties in understanding
language (receptive difficulties), some in using language (expressive
difficulties), and some in both understanding and using language.
The UK charity which supports children and young people with speech,
language and communication impairments and their parents or Carers.