Speech and Language

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What is the difference between speech and language? 

Speech is making the sounds that become words — the physical act of talking. Language is our system of using words to communicate. It includes using words and gestures to say what we mean, and understanding what others say.

How can I tell if my child has a speech delay?

You should be concerned if your child:

  • speaks only in very short sentences
  • makes many mistakes when talking in sentences
  • is difficult to understand
  • has trouble following directions
  • has trouble understanding what people say
  • uses vague words like “stuff” or “thing” and points instead of using the right word

This brochure has a checklist for communication in children under age five that outlines what to watch for.

What can I do if my school aged child has a speech delay?

Visit your family doctor to discuss your child’s speech delay. If your child is in school or starting kindergarten soon, you may be directed to refer to your school district’s speech language pathologist, or you may choose to look into a private service.

For more information on speech and language support services for children over the age of five, see our school health speech and language services page.

Resources

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