Communication Disorders Alexandra, Erin, Kimmie and Frankie

Communication Disorders (CD)

What is it?

Speech and language impairment is defined as a communication disorder that adversely affects the child's ability to talk, understand, read, and write. This disability category can be divided into two groups: speech impairments and language impairments.


  • Speech: Structural malformations of mouth, Neurological damage and psychological factors
  • Language : Biological and environmental factors
  • Hearing impairments and developmental disabilities also play a factor into Communication disorders

Speech Disorder- The production of language

The Four Speech Systems:

  1. Respiration- The breathing that supports speech
  2. Voicing- Sound that is powered by vocal chord
  3. Resonance- How sound changes and travels
  4. Articulation- Formation of speech: lips, tongue and teeth

Language Disorder- The rule governed symbols that have meaning

  • Impairment of comprehension of speech or a written passage involves: form of language, content of language and function of language.
  • there will be difficulty in receiving, understanding, and forming ideas


Speech and language impairments are considered a high-incidence disability. Approximately 20% of children receiving special education services are receiving services for speech and language disorders. This estimate does not include children who receive services for speech and language disorders that are secondary to other conditions such as deafness. More than one-half (55.2%) of all 3-, 4-, and 5-year olds with a disability receive speech and language services.


  • Problems with one or more components of language
  • The misuse or complete omission of morphemes (the smallest meaningful unit of a language)
  • Dificulties retrieving words
  • Significant trouble fitting into the school setting because of their language
  • Not understanding the multiple meanings of words or figurative language
  • Voice disorder- loud, poor quality/ pitch,
  • Impaired flow of speech, no rhythm, unsteady and stuttering
  • Can be related to another disability
  • A difference in dialect does not mean there is a disorder!


  1. Organic- caused by a problem in the neuromuscular system that is identifiable
  2. Functional- no origin of identification
  • Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) will administer a standardized test/ screening test Examples: Early Language Milestone (ELM) Scale, Language Development Survey (LDS), MacArthur Communicative Developmental Inventories (CDIs)
  • Looking at family history
  • Observation/ Data
  • Interviews/ questioning the student
  • A language sample/ analysis of speech in conversation
  • Screening vision and hearing
CLAMS screens for language delays specifically in children three years and younger.

Impact on Cognitive functioning

Communication Disorders can affect many components of cognitive skills. Difficulties with attention can make completing a task very complicated and it can be hard to stay focused on a conversation. Perception can also be distorted and therefor details are not noticed as easily. Another thing that is impacted is memory which is a key factor in conversing with someone. For example following a conversation can become complicated and even small things like remembering names can be affected. Organization, planning and reasoning are also things that communication disorders have an impact on.

Impact on Socio-Emotional and Day-to-Day Functioning

Speech and language disorders are problems in communication and related areas such as oral motor function. Delays and disorders may range from so subtle that they have little or no impact on daily living and socialization to the inability to produce speech or to understand and use language. Fortunately, only a very small percentage of children are at the most extreme of severity. However, because of the importance of language and communication skills in a child's development even mild to moderate disorders or disturbances can have a profound effect on all aspects of life, sometimes isolating children from their peers and their educational environments.

The first area in which a disorder is noticeable is the social development of a child. Without proper socialization it is difficult for a child to even attempt to work toward goals in other areas.

Children with communication disorders have poorly developed conversational skills and have a difficult time making friends because they cannot interact as “normally” or effectively through conversations as other children can. They are also at risk for social problems in other areas (Greenwood et al., 2002). Children need social-communication skills to gather information from their experiences, to achieve cognitive competencies, and to interact appropriately with others and the environment (Greenwood et al., 2002).

Teaching Considerations

1. Children who struggle with communication disorders have trouble comprehending the environment around them. Whether it's communicating with a teacher or peer, or even reading a passage in a textbook.

2. A few ways of helping a student overcome a communication disability is find out what they're good at. Meaning what is the best way they are able to process information Ex: have written instructions for them or have them repeat what it is they are learning.

3. Another way to help the student out is look for cues in which their disability is starting to effect their school performance

Controversial Issues That Surround The Education of Students With Communication Disorders

1. All Inclusive School for students with communication disorders such as schools for deaf students only have become controversial contrary to popular belief. Of course there are arguments for both sides. Some parents argue that these schools for children with hearing impairments are great and will give the students much more appropriate care than a typical public school would. The other side of the spectrum is that students with communication disorders should be involved in a typical classroom in a public school because this will help them learn social skills that they will typically use throughout their lives.

2. Requiring all students to learn and use sign language is also another controversial issue. This issue is a lot like the all inclusive schools for children with hearing impairments. Sign language can be required from kindergarten all the way through high school and some parents do not agree with that idea. One side of the argument is that if every student learned sign language, communication in the school would be much easier to obtain and certain students would not feel left out because of their disorders. The other argument is that students should be more focused on their core classes such as math, science, English, and history. This side of the argument is worried that if we are requiring our students to take sign language classes then they are giving up time on other classes that will help them with standardized tests.

3. Often times kids with communication disorders are sent to see a speech pathologist. Most schools do have a speech pathologist available for their children and this is great! There are a few down falls when there is only one speech pathologist per school especially in larger schools. Sometimes there are a high number of students needing to see a speech pathologist so a student may only be able to meet with them once or twice a week when really they need to be seeing them every school day. Students and their parents may be referred to pathologists outside of the schools and they can become quite expensive and outside of the cost range for parents. This in return leaves the student without the help that they need. Speech pathologists are a wonderful tool for students with communication disorders but that is only if they are accessible for the children.


Created with images by jarmoluk - "education a good idea an array of" • jarmoluk - "apple education school" • congerdesign - "books study literature" • umezy12 - "Classroom"

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