Speech Disorders

Also known as: speech and language disorders, speech impediments, speech problems.

What are speech disorders?

Any abnormality of a child’s ability to speak clearly and normally can be classified as a speech disorder. There are several different types of speech disorders which include difficulties with:

  1. Articulation (the production of clear and distinct sounds in speech-abnormalities may make it hard to understand what is being said).

  2. Voice and Resonance (production by the vocal cords of a loud and clear sound-abnormalities may result in a harsh, hoarse or raspy voice or a “nasally” sounding voice).

  3. Fluency (smoothness or flow of words-an abnormality includes stuttering).

All can range widely in nature and severity. They are frequently seen in childhood, in some improvement occurs over time, in others it may persist into adulthood.

What causes speech disorders? 

Depending on the type of speech disorder, an abnormality may be due to unknown causes, be associated with abnormalities of the structure or function of the mouth, face or palate, hearing loss, due to vocal cord disorders, or timing of breathing, imbalance in sounds produced, or in response to environmental stress.

What are the symptoms of speech disorders?

Symptoms can range widely based on the underlying nature of the disorder. They may include stuttering (the repetition of sounds), long pauses, frustration, head jerking or blinking while talking, trouble articulating properly, a voice that is too loud or too soft, nasal sounding speech or other unusual speech characteristics.

What are speech disorder care options?

The primary treatment for speech disorders is early (infancy or early toddler age) diagnosis and intervention by a licensed professional speech therapist.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: March 04, 2020 09:26 AM

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