Specific developmental disorders of speech and language

The main characteristic of these disorders is a disturbance of language acquisition from the early stages of development. The disturbance, however, is not directly attributable to neurological or speech mechanism abnormalities, sensory impairments, mental retardation, or environmental factors. (1>

There are three main problems in distinguishing these disorders from the normal state and other conditions.

1. Differentiation from the normal state: the disorders must be distinguished from normal speech and language development, bearing in mind the great variations seen in the normal pattern. To make the diagnosis, the disorder must clearly be clinically significant, which can be determined by four main criteria: severity, course, pattern, and associated problems.

2. Differentiation from mental retardation: the degree of speech and language dysfunction must always be considered with respect to the child's cognitive level.

3. Differentiation from disorders due to sensory impairment or impairments of the central nervous systems: speech and language disorders resulting from severe deafness, specific neurological impairments, or structural brain abnormalities are not classified in the category of specific developmental disorders of speech and language.

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