Category Archives: Speech and Language Disorders

Speech and Language Disorders

Speech and Language Disorders:

Language and speech impairments are defined by the Ministry of Education as follows:

Language impairment: a learning disorder characterized by an impairment in comprehension and/or the use of verbal communication or the written or other symbol system of communication, which may be associated with neurological, psychological, physical, or sensory factors, and which may:

a) involve one or more of the form, content, and function of language in communication; and

b) include one or more of: language delay; dysfluency; voice and articulation development, which may or may not be organically or functionally based.

 Speech impairment: a disorder in language formulation that may be associated with neurological, psychological, physical, or sensory factors; that involves perceptual motor aspects of transmitting oral messages; and that may be characterized by impairment in articulation, rhythm, and stress.

From the Special Education Companion (2002)

This is Angela:

Basically a Language Impairment affects the way language is received or expressed (Receptive or Expressive Language).  Language is thought of as a whole, and meaing is affected.  The person may produce language that is incomprehensible or not be able to comprehend language.

A Speech Impairment affects the way sound is produced.  A person with a speech impairment will still understand language.  The way speech sounds are produced are affected through impairments in articulation, rhythm, and stress. 

For example, a person with a speech impairment may stutter, but still use language in a meaningful way and be able to comprehend language (spoken or written).

A person with a language impairment may speak clearly, but not say things in a meaningful way or may not be able to understand language (spoken or written).

From the Special Education Companion (2002):

Speech and language impairments or disorders are strongly connected to learning, literacy, and social development and, as a result, can have a significant impact on the student’s ability to function well in school. Speech and language disorders may exist alone or along with other Exceptionalities.

Speech disorders involve difficulties with speech production that interfere with communication (e.g. articulation, fluency, and voice). Language disorders involve difficulties in understanding and in using verbal and non-verbal information for a variety of purposes (e.g. learning, academics, social interaction).

Speech and language disorders can affect listening, speaking, reading, writing, learning, and social skills. They can therefore affect all aspects of a student’s school life and may be key features of other exceptionalities. Other sections of this Companion contain many references to communication strategies and many suggestions that may be helpful to teachers of students who have speech and language disorders.

Speech/language pathologists conduct assessments that determine the nature and extent of the speech/language disorder and provide recommendations for program accommodations and teaching strategies, as well as alternative learning expectations. These assessments and recommendations are documented in the speech/language pathology report, which provides the foundation for the student’s Individual Education Plan.

Assessment information may also be available from a preschool early intervention program, if the student attended one. Information from such a program, however, may not cover all aspects of the curriculum that need to be addressed. Further assessment and/or observation in the classroom setting may be required.

Resources on the internet include:



Canadian Stuttering Association


Ontario Association for Families of Children with Communication Disorders http:/


The Special Education Companion, 2002 (do you sense a theme here?)

Possibly the BEST and most under-used document in Special Education!  This document lists countless ways to help students under each Exceptionality Category.  If you look at ‘Speech and Language Impairment’ you have 10 pages of characterisitics of these students, issues, general teaching and learning strategies, program ideas, subject-specific strategies (reading, spelling, mathematics) and assessment strategies!

Do NOT write an IEP without reading this document! Parents and Teachers should use this resource to determine appropriate accommodations, modifications, and strategies for the classroom.  Parents, please bring this to your teacher meetings to advocate for your child!

Please give comments with your favourite websites for people with Speech and Language Disorders – share the wealth!

Remember: This is a PERSONAL blog, not an official Ministry of Education website. This is a forum for sharing.

Please add comments and your favourite resources (and let me know if there are any dead links!) Thank you!



Filed under How to Teach Students with Special Needs, Speech and Language Disorders