Speech Language Delay vs. Disorder vs. Difference

When encountering a child with a possible speech language disorder, it is important to recognize that they could be experienceing something that should be categorizes as a speech language delay or difference instead. 


  • A disorder is when there is an impairment. Speech or language development or speech characteristics will not be typical if there is a disorder. Unusual or abnormal behaviors are often characterizations of poeple with a disorder.


  • A disorder is when there is an impairment. Speech and language development will be following a typical parretn, but at a rate that is slower than normal.


  • There is no impairment when there is a speech difference. Instead, characteristics are deviated from what is considered typical or standard. The difference is typically not significant, abnormal or pathologic. An example of a difference in speech is a dialect/accent. 

Below is a table describing the timespan of typically developing speech for children 3-9 years of age





















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Information Gathered by Sydney Weldon and Caitlin Weir- Spring 2014