Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about Speech, Language and Hearing

  • What do Speech-Language Pathologists do?

The role of a Speech-Language Pathologist is to evaluate, diagnose and treat children and adults with communication disorders.
See what ASHA has to say: What SLPs Do

  • What do Audiologists do?

The role of an Audiologist is to evaluate, diagnose and treat children and adults with hearing and balance disorders.

  • What are speech and language disorders?

Speech and language disorders affect one’s ability to speak, understand, read, and write. These disorders have a variety of causes and may range from a single phoneme speech sound error to a total loss of the ability to understand or use speech and language to communicate effectively.

  • What is the difference between ‘speech’ and ‘language’?

Language is the method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way. Persons who have trouble understanding what others say (receptive language) or difficulty sharing their thoughts (expressive language) may have a language disorder.

Speech is the verbal means of communicating and consists of articulation (formation of distinct sounds), voice (use of vocal folds and breathing), and fluency (rhythm of speech). Persons who have trouble producing speech sounds correctly, who have atypical vocal pitch or quality, or who hesitate or stutter when talking, may have a speech disorder. Apraxia of Speech is a motor speech disorder that makes it difficult to plan the motor movements of sounds and syllables to form words.

  • How many people in the United States have speech and language disorders?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD):

Between 6 and 8 million Americans have a language impairment.
The prevalence of speech sound disorders in young American children is 8 to 9 percent.
About one million Americans have aphasia.
About 3 million Americans stutter.
Approximately 7.5 million people in the United States have a voice disorder.

  • How do I know if my preschooler has a speech or language problem?

If your child isn’t talking or is talking very little, consult their doctor. The doctor will likely assess hearing first. By age 3, 80% of what your child says should be understandable to unfamiliar listeners. Before this, sound errors and use of short sentences are developmentally appropriate. Monitor your preschooler’s speech to ensure it is improving over time. By age 6, most children have corrected sound errors and sound like small adults.

  • What should I do if my child’s speech or language appears to be delayed?

Talk to your child’s doctor if you have any concerns. Their doctor may refer you to a speech-language pathologist, who is a health professional trained to evaluate and treat people with speech and/or language disorders. The speech-language pathologist will discuss your child’s communication and general development with you to determine risk-factors and to hear about your specific observations. He or she will also use diagnostic assessments to evaluate your child.

  • How do Speech Language Pathologists help individuals with speech and language disorders?

Speech-language Pathologists select intervention approaches in order to:

Help individuals with articulation disorders to learn how to say speech sounds correctly.
Assist individuals with voice disorders to develop proper control of the vocal and respiratory systems for correct voice production.
Assist individuals who stutter to increase their fluency.
Help children with language disorders to improve language comprehension and production.
Assist individuals with aphasia to improve comprehension and production of spoken and written language.
Assist individuals with severe communication disorders with the use of augmentative and alternative communication systems, including picture exchange and speech-generating devices among others.
Help individuals with speech and language disorders and their communication partners understand the disorders to achieve more effective communication.