What is a Speech-Language Disorder?
Speech-language disorders come in many forms but commonly refer to a disruption in the acquisition, use or maintenance of language and articulation.
Speech is Different from Language
To understand speech and language parents should think about how first children learn to make a sound (speech) and then they learn how to use that sound to communicate (language). Toddlers pass from merely babbling (speech for the sake of speech) to using vocalizations and verbalizations to express themselves (speech in the form of language). If a child has problems with articulation then they may have a speech disorder. If they have trouble using language they may have a language disorder.
A delay and disorder are different diagnoses. In the great majority of cases medical insurance will not pay for a "speech delay" because the child is thought to just need time, rather than therapy, to catch up.
When children do not babble, vocalize or speak in a timely manner they are said to have a speech and language delay. However, most professionals identify this as a "disorder" when the delay is over 3-6 months. A "disorder" also may be identified when atypical speech or language use occurs.
Parents and physicians often come to us about a "speech delay" that is actually a "disorder". A speech language pathologist or doctor can assign the diagnostic label "speech disorder" after evaluation.
What to do?
If you, your family or your doctor suspects speech delay or disorder please see a speech pathologist to get an evaluation. Most insurers will cover evaluations without an authorization or referral. You have a right in most cases to have insurance pay for more than one evaluation if you need a second opinion.
The Take Away:
Whether your child has a speech or language disorder or just a delay, skilled consistent therapy from a licensed speech language pathologist will help ensure maximum attention to areas of communication need.
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