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Suffolk Center for Speech


Week 1 – Early language

What is the difference between a language disorder and a language delay? Although the two terms seem synonyms, they in fact mean very different things. On one hand, the term language disorder means that a child is not developing language as one would expect. While the term language delay means the child is developing language in a typical manner but is doing so at a slower rate than their peers.

According to ASHA, a language disorder it is an impairment in comprehension and expression of spoken language, written, and/or other symbol systems. An individual with a language disorder can have deficits in form, which is the phonological, syntactic, and morphological aspect of language. Content, which is the semantics part. And function, which involves pragmatics.

A language delay follows the typical course of development; skills match those of younger typically developing peers but do so at a slower rate. When a child is learning to talk they follow certain patterns and develop skills at certain ages. A child with a language delay may exhibit the same patterns and skills but at a slower rate. For example, a child at 18 months should have a vocabulary of ~20 words, but if that 18 month old still isn’t speaking any words they may be experiencing a language delay.

Source: https://www.speechpointtherapy.com/single-post/2018/02/14/Language-Delay-vs-Language-Disorder & https://leader.pubs.asha.org/do/10.1044/language-delay-versus-a-disorder/full/

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