Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Birner, Betty

Degree Name

B.S. (Bachelor of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Introduction: The problem of misdiagnosis between language disorder and language difference is something that has been increasingly brought to light in the past few decades. There is a plethora of information showing research to prove licensed speech language pathologists (SLPs) and students do not have accurate judgement in conducting evaluations or deciphering the correct diagnosis as they do in other areas of the field (Levey, 2013; ASHA Cultural Competence; Verdon, McLeod, & Wong, 2016; Horton-Ikard & Muñoz, 2010 ). The factors that contribute to this problem include the lack of a required multicultural course which leads to insufficient cultural competence, and the inability to identify a nonstandard English dialect from disordered speech (Levey, 2013; Social Dialects, 1983). With minority populations being most frequently misdiagnosed, the understanding of different cultures is an area SLPs need to become more versed in. This would allow SLPs to avoid giving biased tests to those populations who may not understand the context of certain questions because it is not relevant to their native culture. The aim of this study is to inform readers of the main differences in these diagnoses and find the most frequently identified symptoms between them to distinguish the two as distinctly as possible. This paper is meant to serve as a resource for parents, students, teachers, linguists and speech language pathologists. Even after SLPs conduct their assessments, the parents know the child’s true ability better than they ever will, and this is why it is important for parents to be aware of the typical developmental milestones. The input of loved ones is very important for speech language pathologists to compare with the results of assessments and help paint a better picture of the child’s strengths and weaknesses to ensure the most accurate diagnosis. Being aware of the ongoing mistakes of others in the field can help licensed or training speech language pathologists improve themselves and become more cautious of mislabeling clients. This paper explores why this misunderstanding exists to advocate for changes and implement better education for future speech language pathologists.

CAPSTONE.docx (71 kB)
Thesis and Appendix

Capstone references.docx (14 kB)


23 pages




Northern Illinois University

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