Speech / Language Impairments

Sonia Howley, Program Specialist
[email protected]
(904) 547-7543

The goal of the Speech and Language Impaired Program is to help each student to develop maximum competence in communication and so be successful in the educational setting. The program shall provide appropriate procedures for early identification through screenings, evaluations, diagnosis, case selection, referral, consultation and therapy. Speech and language therapy is provided by speech-language pathologists at every school in St. Johns County.

Speech impairments are disorders of speech sounds, fluency, or voice that interfere with communication, adversely affect performance or functioning in the educational environment, and result in the need for exceptional student education. A speech impairment is not primarily the result of factors related to chronological age, gender, culture, ethnicity, or limited English proficiency.

  1. A speech sound disorder is a phonological or articulation disorder that is evidenced by the atypical production of speech sounds characterized by substitutions, distortions, additions, or omissions that interfere with intelligibility (the ability to be understood by others.)
    1. A phonological disorder is an impairment in the system of phonemes and phoneme patterns within the context of spoken language.
    2. An articulation disorder is characterized by difficulty in the articulation of speech sounds that may be due to a motoric or structural problem.
  2. A fluency disorder is characterized by deviations in continuity, smoothness, rhythm, or effort in spoken communication. It may be accompanied by excessive tension and secondary behaviors, such as struggle and avoidance.
  3. A voice disorder is characterized by the atypical production or absence of vocal quality, pitch, loudness, resonance, or duration of phonation.

Language impairments are disorders of language that interfere with communication, adversely affect performance or functioning in the student’s typical learning environment, and result in the need for exceptional student education. A language impairment is defined as a disorder in one or more of the basic learning processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language. These include:

  1. Phonology: the sound systems of a language and the linguistic conventions of a language that guide the sound selection and sound combinations used to convey meaning.
  2. Morphology: the system that governs the internal structure of words and the construction of word forms.
  3. Syntax: the system governing the order and combination of words to form sentences, and the relationships among the elements within a sentence.
  4. Semantics: the system that governs the meanings of words and sentences.
  5. Pragmatics: the system that combines language components in functional and socially appropriate communication.

The language impairment may manifest in significant difficulties affecting listening comprehension, oral expression, social interaction, reading, writing, or spelling. A language impairment is not primarily the result of factors related to chronological age, gender, culture, ethnicity, or limited English proficiency.

If you are concerned about your child’s communication skills, contact the speech-language pathologist at your child’s school. For children under five years of age, you may click here to schedule a screening through Child Find or call 386-329-3811.