Communication Skills and Disorders
The skills needed to use language (spoken, written, signed, or otherwise communicated) to interact with others, and problems related to the development of these skills.
Language employs symbols—words, gestures, or spoken sounds—to represent objects and ideas. Communication of language begins with spoken sounds combined with gestures, relying on two different types of skills. Children first acquire the skills to receive communications, that is, listening to and understanding what they hear (supported by accompanying gestures). Next, they will begin experimenting with expressing themselves through speaking and gesturing. Speaking will begin as repetitive syllables, followed by words, phrases, and sentences. Later, children will acquire the skills of reading and writing, the written forms of communication. Although milestones are discussed for the development of these skills of communication, many children begin speaking significantly earlier or later than the milestone date. Parents should refrain from attaching too much significance to either deviation from the average. When a child's deviation from the average milestones of development cause the parents concern, they may contact a pediatrician or other professional for advice.
Spoken language problems are referred to by a number of labels, including language delay, language disability, or a specific type of language disability. In general, experts distinguish between those people who seem to be slow in developing spoken language (language delay) and those who seem to have difficulty achieving a milestone of spoken language (language disorders). Language disorders include stuttering; articulation disorders, such as substituting one sound for another (tandy for candy), omitting a sound (canny for candy), or distorting a sound (shlip for sip); and voice disorders, such as inappropriate pitch, volume, or quality. Causes can be related to hearing,
nerve/muscle disorders, head injury, viral diseases, mental retardation, drug abuse, or cleft lip or palate.
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Cowley, Geoffrey. "The Language Explosion." Newsweek 129, (Spring-Summer 1997): 16+.
Goodluck, H. Language Acquisition: A Linguistic Introduction. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1991.
Pinker, S. The Language Instinct. New York: Morrow, 1994.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. 1801 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852, voice or TTY (301)897–8682, voice or TTY (800) 638–8255. Email: ircasha.org. www.asha.org. (Publishes brochures, booklets, and fact sheets on speech-language pathology.)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892. Email: email@example.com. www.nih.gov/nidcd/.