The first 3-4 years of life is when the child acquires speech and language skills.  These skills develop best when the child is exposed to world rich in sounds (hearing skills), sights and exposure to the speech and language of their parent and care givers.

What is the difference between voice, speech and language?

1) Voice

This is the sound made from vibration of the vocal folds when air is pushed from the lungs through the larynx (refer to Figure 1).


Figure 1: How voice is produced in human

How voice is produced in human

2) Speech

Speech is created by talking to express language and requires coordinated muscle actions of the vocal folds, tongue, lips and jaw.  Speech is controlled by the Broca’s and Wernicke’s area on left side of the brain (refer to Figure 2).


Figure 2: The Broca’s (area to express speech) and Wernicke’s (area to understand speech) areas at the left side of the brain control speech by sending signals to the motor cortex (which control the mouth and lips) to articulate the words out loud


3) Language

Language is how people express themselves through speech.

Communication Disorder Red Flags

baby's response to touch and sound

Image source: Stock Unlimited

 Communication is a process of exchanging verbal or non-verbal information between individuals. It involves the receptive (ability to understand) language, expressive (production of words to convey messages) language, speech (sound of a spoken language) and pragmatic language (rules in a spoken language).

Baby respond to voice and playing with doll

Image source: Pixabay


Every child may not develop these communication skills at the same time or rate as compared to another child. Every child is unique in his/her development. However, when a child does not acquire certain skills at a certain developmental age, this could be a red flag of a communication disorder.


Here are some of the communication disorder red flags to look out for:

If you notice any of these signs, please do not wait to seek help. It is highly recommended that you get your child evaluated by a qualified Speech-Language Therapist or a related professional (ie. Developmental Paediatrician, Clinical Psychologist).



American Speech-Language-Hearing AssociationThe Hanen Centre, Jeanne S. Chall, Stages of Reading Development , N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1983.

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Dr. Shailendra Sivalingam

Dr. Shailendra Sivalingam

Ear, Nose & Throat Surgeon


Mr. Saravanan Selanduray

Mr. Saravanan Selanduray