Phoniatrics I pp 539-605 | Cite as

Basics of Developmental Disorders of Speech and Language

  • Antoinette am Zehnhoff-DinnesenEmail author
  • Doris-Maria Denk-Linnert
  • Mona Hegazi
  • Annerose Keilmann
  • Christiane Kiese-Himmel
  • Katrin Neumann
  • Sabrina Regele
  • Rainer Schönweiler
  • Eva Seemanova
Part of the European Manual of Medicine book series (EUROMANUAL)


The development of speech and language from infancy to around 4 years of age is a central issue and thus a useful indicator of a child’s overall development. Any impairment in this critical period may negatively affect the child’s future development and affect the verbal cognitive development, the individual’s ability to communicate, school attainment, psychosocial development, vocal well-being and quality of life. Learning language depends on learning grammar (a knowledge- and rule-based system); learning speech depends on learning which sounds are used in a language, involving sound production, perception and organization. Regular speech-language development in monolingual children proceeds in stages with regularities with respect to time and content. Knowledge of these milestones of the typical language development seen in context with cognitive, auditory, motoric, psycho-emotional and general development of a child is a prerequisite to recognizing developmental language delays or disorders. Developmental disorders of speech and language (DDSL) are common diseases. Prevalence numbers are mostly reported from 6 to 8%. They affect boys twice as frequently as girls and all languages a child speaks. For their diagnosis they have to be differentiated from other disorders or functional abnormalities, which may mimic DDSL symptoms, as well as from sociogenically caused language abnormalities.

DDSL may be subdivided into specific DDSL (SDDSL; synonym: specific language impairment), and DDSL associated with language-relevant comorbidities. Prevalence of SDDSL is reported mostly from 5 to 8%.

This chapter presents typical language development and the definition, epidemiology, aetiology, pathophysiology, symptoms and differential diagnoses of DDSL.


Language development Developmental language disorder Language impairment Language abnormalities Milestones 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antoinette am Zehnhoff-Dinnesen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Doris-Maria Denk-Linnert
    • 2
  • Mona Hegazi
    • 3
  • Annerose Keilmann
    • 4
  • Christiane Kiese-Himmel
    • 5
  • Katrin Neumann
    • 6
  • Sabrina Regele
    • 1
  • Rainer Schönweiler
    • 7
  • Eva Seemanova
    • 8
  1. 1.Clinic of Phoniatrics and PedaudiologyUniversity Hospital MünsterMünsterGermany
  2. 2.Division of Phoniatrics-Logopedics, Department of OtorhinolaryngologyMedical University of ViennaWienAustria
  3. 3.ENT DepartmentAin Shams UniversityCairoEgypt
  4. 4.Voice Care Center Bad RappenauBad RappenauGermany
  5. 5.Phoniatrics/Pediatric Audiological PsychologyUniversity Medical Center GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  6. 6.Department of Phoniatrics and Pediatric Audiology, ENT ClinicSt. Elisabeth Hospital, University of BochumBochumGermany
  7. 7.Department of Phoniatrics and Pediatric AudiologyUniversity Clinic of Schleswig-Holstein, Campus LübeckLübeckGermany
  8. 8.Department of Child Neurology2nd Medical School of Charles University PraguePragueCzech Republic

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