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Speech/Language Disorders

Speech and language disorders refer to problems in communication and related areas. They can range from simple sound substitutions to the inability to understand or use language. Some causes would be hearing loss, neurological disorders, brain injury, mental retardation, drug abuse, cleft lip or palate, and vocal abuse or misuse. Frequently, the cause is unknown. It is estimated that one of every ten persons in the United States is affected by a communication disorder.


Speech disorders refer to difficulties in producing speech sounds or problems with voice quality. Disorders would include

People with speech disorders have trouble using some speech sounds. They may say "see" when they mean "ski" or have trouble with sounds like "I" or "R."

A language disorder is an impairment in the ability to understand and/or use words in context. Characteristics include the improper use of words and their meanings, the inability to express ideas, inappropriate grammatical patterns, reduced vocabulary, and the inability to follow directions.

Some youth with speech and language disorders isolate themselves from social interaction and have a problem forming interpersonal relationships.

Help For Leaders


Sarkees-Wircenski, M., and Scott, J. L. (1995). Vocational special needs. Homewood, IL: American Technical Publishers, Inc.

National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities. (1991). General information about speech and language disorders (Fact Sheet Number 11). Washington, DC.


American Cleft Palate-Craniofarial Association
104 S. Estes Drive, Suite 204
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
(919) 933-9044

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
10801 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852
(800) 638-8255

National Easter Seal Society
230 W. Monroe St., Suite 1800
Chicago, IL 60606-4802
(312) 726-4258 (TDD)
(800) 221-6827

National Stuttering Project
5100 E. La Palma Ave., Suite 208
Anaheim Hills, CA 92807