What Are Speech Disorders?
Speech disorders can affect the way a person creates sounds to
form words. Certain voice disorders may also be considered speech disorders.
One of the most commonly experienced speech disorders is stuttering. Other speech disorders
a motor speech disorder caused by damage to the parts of the brain related to
a motor speech disorder in which the muscles of the mouth, face, or respiratory
system may become weak or have difficulty moving
Some people with speech disorders are aware of what they would
like to say, but are unable to articulate their thoughts. This may lead to
self-esteem issues and the development of depression.
Speech disorders can affect adults and children. Early treatment
can correct these conditions.
What Causes Speech Disorders?
Speech disorders affect the vocal cords, muscles, nerves, and
other structures within the throat.
Causes may include:
- vocal cord damage
- brain damage
- muscle weakness
- respiratory weakness
- polyps or nodules on the vocal cords
- vocal cord paralysis
People who have certain medical or developmental conditions may
also have speech disorders. Common conditions that can lead to speech disorders
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- oral cancer
- laryngeal cancer
- Huntington’s disease
- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou
Speech disorders may be hereditary, and they can develop over
What Are the Symptoms of a Speech Disorder?
Depending on the cause of the speech disorder, several symptoms
may be present. Common symptoms experienced by people with speech disorders
- repeating sounds (most often seen in people who
- adding extra sounds and words
- elongating words
- making jerky movements while talking (usually
involving the head)
- blinking several times while talking
- visible frustration when trying to communicate
- taking frequent pauses when talking
- distorting sounds when talking
- hoarseness (raspy or gravely sounding voice)
How Are Speech Disorders Diagnosed?
Denver Articulation Screening Exam
The Denver articulation screening examination is the most
commonly used testing system to diagnose speech disorders. This test evaluates
the clarity in pronunciation in children between the ages of 2 and 7. This
five-minute test uses various exercises to assess the child’s speech.
Early Language Milestones Scale 2
This test determines a child’s language development. This test
can quickly identify delayed speech or language disorders.
Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test Revised
This test measures a person’s vocabulary and ability to speak.
The person will listen to various words and choose pictures that describe the
words. People who have severe intellectual disabilities and those who are blind
will not able to take this assessment. The Peabody picture vocabulary test has
been revised many times since its first version was administered in 1959.
How Are Speech Disorders Treated?
Mild speech disorders may not require any treatment. Some speech
disorders may simply go away. Others can improve with speech therapy.
Treatment varies and depends on the type of disorder. In speech
therapy, a professional therapist will guide you through exercises that work to
strengthen the muscles in the face and throat. You’ll learn to control your
breathing while speaking. Muscle-strengthening exercises and controlled
breathing help improve the way your words sound. You’ll also learn ways to
practice smoother, more fluent speech.
Some people with speech disorders experience nervousness,
embarrassment, or depression. Talk therapy may be helpful in these situations. A
therapist will discuss ways to cope with the condition and ways to improve the
outlook of your condition. If your depression is severe, antidepressant
medications can help.
What Are the Potential Complications of
Untreated speech disorders may cause a person to experience a
great deal of anxiety. Over time, this anxiety can trigger anxiety disorders or
a phobia of speaking in public. Early treatment for anxiety can help prevent
the development of anxiety disorders or phobias. Treatment options include talk
therapy and anti-anxiety medications.
What Is the Long-Term Outlook?
The outlook improves for people who seek early treatment. Early
treatment helps prevent a speech disorder from worsening. The outlook for those
with permanent disabilities depends upon the severity of the disability.