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Speech and Language

So what’s the difference?

When my protagonist, Harlow Hanson, was a child she had a speech and language disorder. Though the story does not linger on this in depth, it has to do with mixed expressive receptive language disorder (MERLD). Many people hear this and do not understand the difference between speech and language. They believe it all has to do with simply mispronouncing things. Therefore, they believe if a child can pronounce words correctly then they are not hindered. However, a child may pronounce words correctly yet not understand (receptive) what is being said to them. They may try to answer you and not be able to get the words out fast enough (expressive), and they may be perceived as rude or inattentive. Caregivers may also be told, “She sounds fine to me!” But they haven’t tried to dialogue at any depth with the child to learn that a conversation gets difficult quickly. This has to do with language disorder and the way it is processed in the brain. There is a difference. Here is a fantastic website that explains this difference.

I have a child in my own family who struggles with mixed expressive receptive language disorder (MERLD) and felt strongly that there should be more representation of people in literature (and film) with speech and language disorders. I’m a huge fan of The King’s Speech, but we need more stories like that.

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