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Speech Lingo:


Parents often times ask for additional information regarding a particular phrase or speech related terminology within an evaluation, diagnosis or IEP.  I have referenced a short list of commonly used terms within the speech and language world.


Communication disorder is an impairment in the ability to receive, send, process, and comprehend concepts or verbal, nonverbal and graphic symbol systems. A communication disorder may be evident in the processes of hearing, language, and/or speech. A communication disorder may range in severity from mild to profound. It may be developmental or acquired. Individuals may demonstrate one or any combination of communication disorders. A communication disorder may result in a primary disability or it may be secondary to other disabilities.


Speech disorder is an impairment of the articulation of speech sounds, fluency and/or voice.

  • An articulation disorder is the atypical production of speech sounds characterized by substitutions, omissions, additions or distortions that may interfere with intelligibility.

  • A fluency disorder is an interruption in the flow of speaking characterized by atypical rate, rhythm, and repetitions in sounds, syllables, words, and phrases. This may be accompanied by excessive tension, struggle behavior, and secondary mannerisms.

  • A voice disorder is characterized by the abnormal production and/or absences of vocal quality, pitch, loudness, resonance, and/or duration, which is inappropriate for an individual's age and/or sex.


Language disorder is impaired comprehension and/or use of spoken, written and/or other symbol systems. The disorder may involve (1) the form of language (phonology, morphology, syntax), (2) the content of language (semantics), and/or (3) the function of language in communication (pragmatics) in any combination.

  • Form of Language

    • Phonology is the sound system of a language and the rules that govern the sound combinations.

    • Morphology is the system that governs the structure of words and the construction of word forms.

    • Syntax is the system governing the order and combination of words to form sentences, and the relationships among the elements within a sentence.

  • Content of Language

    • Semantics is the system that governs the meanings of words and sentences.

  • Function of Language

    • Pragmatics is the system that combines the above language components in functional and socially appropriate communication.


Communication difference/dialect is a variation of a symbol system used by a group of individuals that reflects and is determined by shared regional, social, or cultural/ethnic factors. A regional, social, or cultural/ethnic variation of a symbol system should not be considered a disorder of speech or language.


Augmentative/alternative communication systems attempt to compensate and facilitate, temporarily or permanently, for the impairment and disability patterns of individuals with severe expressive and/ or language comprehension disorders. Augmentative/alternative communication may be required for individuals demonstrating impairments in gestural, spoken, and/or written modalities.


Source:  American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (1993). Definitions of communication disorders and variations [Relevant Paper].  Available from - See more at:

To read more please follow the link to the ASHA website


Helpful Resources:


Here are some helpful tools and resources that I have come across if you are looking for more information!

Official Organizations:

ASHA - American Speech and Hearing Assocation Website

MSHA - Missouri Speech and Hearing Association Website

The Hanen Center - Tips for Parents



ASHAsphere -  Official ASHA Blog

Mommy Speech Therapy - Great Blog with elementary level speech related topics


Technology Related Resources:

TiPS:  Community forum and list of IPad and other helpful speech applications

SpeechTechie: Technology related resources for speech and language therapy

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