Glossary of Terms related to Speech Language Pathology

Apraxia of Speech

Motor disorder that impairs the sequencing of speech sounds. Errors are unpredictable, and “groping” for the right sounds / words may be observed. Acquired apraxia may result from stroke, head injury, brain tumor, toxins or infections. Developmental apraxia is present at birth. Speech may be delayed and feeding problems are sometimes present.

Articulation Disorder

Mispronunciation of speech sounds characterized by sound omissions, substitutions, distortions and additions

Auditory Processing Disorder

Refers to the brain’s recognition and interpretation of speech and non-speech sounds and affects the processing or interpretation of information. Children may show difficulty with attention, following directions, listening, academic performance, behavior, syntax, vocabulary, reading, writing and spelling. The cause is often unknown; however, it may be associated with dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, autism, specific language impairment or developmental delay.

Augmentative Communication

Supplementation or replacement of speech through the use of aided or unaided techniques. Unaided communication can include sign language, gestures and finger spelling. Aided communication can include computer-based systems that support verbal and written communication.


Developmental disability characterized by significant differences in the areas of social competence and communication skills. Individuals typically demonstrate a narrow range of interests, repeatedly engage in specific activities and experience difficulties in processing sensory input from the surrounding environment. Common behaviors include a tendency to avoid social contact, become upset by changes in routine, and inability to communicate effectively.


Constant repeating or parroting of what has been said by others. Individuals with autism or Tourette syndrome commonly exhibit echolalia.

Expressive Language Delay

Difficulty with verbal expression. Symptoms can include word finding difficulties (anomia), misnaming items (dysnomia), deficits in syntax (word order), semantics (word meaning) and morphology (changes in verb tense), problems in retelling a story or relaying information and inability to start or hold a conversation. An expressive disorder may be delayed (pattern of development is slow, but normal) or disordered (language is slow to develop and sequence of development and pattern of errors is atypical).

Oral Motor Difficulties

Problems with chewing, sucking, blowing or making specific speech sounds. Signs and symptoms may include low muscle tone in the face, open mouth posture, drooling, oral sensitivity, unclear speech sounds and feeding difficulties.


Type of communication that involves repeating back to the sender almost the identical message that has been received. Some children with autism parrot phrases heard from earlier conversations or television programs.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder

Characterized by severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development including reciprocal social interaction skills, communication skills, or the presence of stereotypical behavior, interests and activities.

Phonological Delay

Phonology is the science of speech sounds and patterns. A phonological delay occurs when children have not learned the rules for combining sounds in words and create their own. This affects classes of sounds rather than individual sounds. For example, a child may voice all voiceless consonants such as p, t, and k, and pronounce them as b, d and g. Phonological disorders may significantly reduce speech intelligibility and can place children at risk for future reading and learning disabilities.

Receptive Language Delay

Difficulty understanding language. Symptoms can include difficulty following directions, decreased comprehension, limited vocabulary, poor understanding and difficulty attending to spoken language.

Sign Language

Method of communicating using hand gestures. Individuals with a hearing loss often use this form of language.


Speech disorder marked by disruptions in the normal flow of speech. These disruptions, also called dysfluencies, often include repetition or prolongation of sounds, syllables or words. Stuttering may be accompanied by eye blinks, tremors of the lips or jaw and tension in the head, neck and shoulder. Stuttering generally begins in childhood, and its exact cause remains unknown. Someone growing up with a stutter may experience discrimination, rejection, failure and ridicule. These factors can erode confidence and self-esteem and be a source of embarrassment, distress and frustration. Because of this, people who stutter often avoid speaking situations. While most children outgrow their stuttering, there are a number of risk factors that indicate a child may not recover without speech therapy:

  • Family history of stuttering
  • Child is unable to get words out or stretches out sound in words
  • Child frequently repeats whole word or parts of words
  • Speech begins to increase in volume and pitch during stuttering moments
  • Child has other speech / language delays
  • Child displays frustration when stuttering
  • Child avoids speaking situations
  • Stuttering persists beyond 6 months and increases in severity

Tongue Thrust

Orofacial muscular imbalance in which the tongue pushes against the teeth while swallowing or at rest. Also known as “reverse” swallow, it may result in misalignment of teeth and distorted speech sounds.

Voice Disorder

Any deviation in pitch, intensity, resonance or quality that renders a person’s voice “abnormal” to the listener. A voice disorder may be secondary to a number of underlying causes including overuse, neurologic disorders, trauma, surgery, cancer, psychological difficulties, or viral and bacterial conditions.

The above information was obtained from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital website.

Child Language Development

This information was obtained from the following:
©2003 Talking Child™

Speech & Articulation Development Chart

In the chart below, each solid bar indicates when children generally MASTER the specified sounds. This chart depicts a range of development and should only be used as a general guide.

* Adapted from Sander JSHD 1972; Smit, et al JSHD 1990 and the Nebraska-Iowa Articulation Norms Project

This information was obtained from the following:
©2003 Talking Child™

Talking to your child is the most important thing that you can do for them!

Use everyday routines and events to help your child learn language. Narrate your day for them, talk about EVERYTHING that you are doing. Your child is looking to you as their model therefore, what you say and how you say it has such an impact on their speech and language development.  Here are a few ideas on how to increase your child’s overall speech and language development:

Establish eye contact early on.

Eye contact is the earliest means of communication. You can establish eye contact by sitting face to face with your child while you are speaking to them, hold desired objects close to your face to gain their attention and praise them for looking at you, verbally ask them to look at you and don’t forget to praise them for looking at you (i.e. “nice looking at mommy”).

Make everyday situations a learning experience.

Children are sponges and pick up on everything that they see and hear. Remember to talk/narrate your day for them (i.e. “Mommy is pouring your milk”, “I am opening the door”, “Look at the red apple”), etc.

Sign language can help many children learn to talk/communicate.

The use of signs will not stop your child from talking it will only help decrease their frustrations from not being able to verbally communicate.  Always pair your voice with the use of signs.  Eventually when your child’s expressive language skills increase they will fade the use of signs and rely on their verbalizations to communicate.  The following are pictures of basic signs that you can use with your child to help communicate their wants and needs:

*This handout was obtained from Super Duper Publications “Early Language Development” written by Linda Mawhinney & Mary Scott McTeague.

A useful DVD that is available to help increase your child’s use of signs is Baby Einstein’s “My First Signs.”

How to improve your child’s listening skills.

– Over-articulate your speech when you are speaking to your child so they can hear each sound      you are producing (i.e. “Let’s read a booK,” “Put on your haT,” “PoP the bubble.”

– Improve your child’s listening skills by teaching your child how to receive, understand and use the information that they hear.  Teach them to listen with their “eyes” and their “ears.” Let them know how important it is to look at someone when they are speaking.  Teach them that you hear with your ears, but you LISTEN with your ears and your eyes! Quiz them daily on their listening skills by implementing the following ideas:

1. Give them multi-step directions to follow (i.e. “Go to your room and get your shoes,” “Pick up the ball and the car and put it in the box.”).

2. Ask them recall questions throughout the day (i.e. “We are going to the store to buy milk, apples and some bread. –What are we buying at the store?” “My sister went to the soccer game but she forgot to bring her cleats.”- Where did my sister go?”

Read to them!

It is never too early to start. Reading to your child will encourage good language development.  Children learn that pictures can be clues about the story and when they hear new words they expand their world by developing new thinking skills.  Set aside time each day to read with your child and explore the endless possibilities.