Slide 3

Different Types Of Disorders

Although all children will present differently, below is a general description of language, speech and literacy difficulties.


Language refers to meanings. A person with a language impairment may have problems expressing needs, ideas, or information, and/or in understanding what others say. It is possible to have an expressive language impairment, a receptive language impairment, or a mixed language impairment (which involves both).

Receptive Language refers to comprehension skills, or the ability to understand language. Children with a receptive language impairment may exhibit the difficulty in some or all of the following areas:

• Maintaining attention
• Understanding stories
• Remembering verbal information
• Following simple and complex directions
• Remembering sequences of information
• Understanding and responding appropriately to questions
• Understanding word meanings and their associations
• Understanding time concepts (e.g. before, after, today, tomorrow)
• Understanding number or quantity concepts (e.g. some, all, a few, many)
• Understanding abstract concepts
• Understanding figurative language (e.g. humour, idioms, puns)
• Understanding language across different social situations

Expressive Language refers to the ability to clearly express ideas in a way that other people can understand. Children with an expressive language impairment may exhibit the difficulty in some or all of the following areas:

• Forming sentences
• Using longer, more complex sentences
• Vocabulary
• Using descriptive language
• Finding the right words
• Grammar (e.g. using plurals, tense, pronouns)
• Sequencing ideas / ordering of events
• Initiating conversation
• Explaining and clarifying thoughts / ideas
• Maintaining and changing topic appropriately
• Providing all information necessary to the listener
• Limiting gesture appropriately during conversation


In order to acquire adult-like speech, children must learn how to accurately produce speech sounds (articulation development) and organise speech sounds into a system that matches adult production (phonological development).

An articulation impairment refers to an impaired ability to produce speech sounds, so these sounds are distorted or omitted. This may be due to difficulty using or not knowing where to your articulators (tongue, lips or teeth) in order to produce certain sounds correctly.

A phonological speech impairment refers to using incorrect speech patterns. Phonological development is gradual and all children make predictable errors, called "phonological errors", as they learn how to use speech sounds to express meaning. Sometimes a child continues to use these errors simply because they are not aware that they are saying words differently. If a child continues to use these phonological processes, the result is a phonological impairment.

An articulation or phonological impairment can vary from mild to severe. Children may have an articulation or a phonological impairment or a combination of both.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech is a motor speech disorder (also known as speech dyspraxia). Children with apraxia of speech have difficulty planning and producing the precise coordinated movements of the tongue, lips, jaw and palate that are necessary for producing intelligible speech. Speech errors include substitutions, omissions, additions and repetitions of sounds and simplification of words. The number of errors tend to increase as the length of words/phrases increase.

Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder. The muscles of the mouth, face, and respiratory system may become weak, move slowly, or not move at all after a stroke or other brain injury. Some causes of dysarthria include stroke, head injury, cerebral palsy, and muscular dystrophy. Both children and adults can have dysarthria. Decreased strength and coordination of speech musculature may lead to imprecise speech production, slurring and distortions of speech sounds.

Fluency and Stuttering Disorders
Fluency or stuttering disorders refers to interruptions in the flow or rhythm of speech characterised by hesitations, repetitions or prolongations of sounds, syllables, word or phrases.

Voice Disorders
Voice disorders are characterised by abnormal pitch (too high, too low, never changing, or interrupted by breaks), vocal quality (harsh, hoarse, breathy, or nasal), volume or duration.

Literacy Difficulties
Literacy difficulties affect many children and can characterised by difficulties reading, spelling or/or using appropriate grammar and punctuation. Language and literacy development are closely related. Literacy development is supported by phonological awareness skills (knowledge of the sounds in language), vocabulary and sentence structure.

Central Auditory Processing Disorder
Children with central auditory processing disorder (or auditory processing disorder) typically can hear auditory information, but they have difficulty attending to, storing, locating, retrieving and clarifying that information to make it useful for social or academic purposes. Children with central auditory processing disorder may exhibit a variety of listening and related complaints. For example, they may have difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments, following directions, and discriminating (or telling the difference between) similar-sounding speech sounds. Sometimes they may behave as if a hearing loss is present, often asking for repetition or clarification.



Stay connected with Buzz on Facebook. We publish "Student of the Week", Buzz notices, activity ideas and links to other helpful sites.

Buzz News

Sign up to receive your regular Buzz e-newsletter in your inbox or you can catch up with the latest on our website.

Get In Touch

There are lots of ways to contact Buzz and we are always happy to discuss your unique situation. Get in touch and say hello!


We love what we do and happy customers are the best advertising. We also love to hear how our team has helped kids all around Canberra!