Speech and language disorders can affect the way children talk, understand, analyze or process information. Speech disorders include the clarity, voice quality, and fluency of a child’s spoken words. Language disorders include a child’s ability to hold meaningful conversations, understand others, problem solve, read and comprehend, and express thoughts through spoken or written words.

     Communication skills are at the heart of life’s experience, particularly for children who are developing language critical to cognitive development and learning. Reading, writing, gesturing, listening, and speaking are all forms of language – a code we learn to use in order to communicate ideas.

     Learning takes place through the process of communication. The ability to participate in active and interactive communication with peers and adults in the educational setting is essential for a student to succeed in school.

     Spoken language provides the foundation for the development of reading and writing. Spoken and written language have a reciprocal relationship – each builds on the other to result in general language and literacy competence, starting early and continuing through childhood into adulthood.

     Children with communication disorders frequently perform at a poor or insufficient academic level, struggle with reading, have difficulty understanding and expressing language, misunderstand social cues, avoid attending school, show poor judgment, and have difficulty with tests.

     Difficulty in learning to listen, speak, read, or write can result from problems in language development. Problems can occur in the production, comprehension, and awareness of language at the sound, syllable, word, sentence, and discourse levels. Individuals with reading and writing problems also may experience difficulties in using language strategically to communicate, think, and learn.

     Speech-language pathology services can help children become effective communicators, problem-solvers and decision-makers. As a result of services such as memory retraining, cognitive reorganization, language enhancement, and efforts to improve abstract thinking, children can benefit from a more successful and satisfying educational experience as well as improved peer relationships. The services that speech-language pathologists provide can help children overcome their disabilities, achieve pride and self-esteem, and find meaningful roles in their lives.

© 2005-07 WETA/Reading Rockets. Helping Children with Communication Disorders in the Schools. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/launchingreaders/brain/helpfularticles_2.html on May 1, 2016.