Speech and Communication Disorders – An Overview for the General Public

Speech and Communication Disorders – An Overview for the General Public

Speech and language disorders refer to problems with communication and related areas such as oral motor function. These delays and disturbances range from simple sound substitutions to the inability to understand or use language or to use the oro-motor mechanism for functional speech and eating. Some causes of speech and language disorders include hearing loss, neurological disorders, brain damage, mental retardation, substance abuse, physical impairments such as cleft lip or palate, and abuse or misuse of voice. Often, however, the cause is unknown.

Speech disorders refer to difficulties in producing speech sounds or problems with voice quality. They can be characterized by an interruption in the flow or rhythm of speech, such as stuttering, called dysfluidity. Speech disorders can be problems with the formation of sounds, called articulation or phonological disorders, or difficulties with the pitch, volume or quality of the voice.

There may be a combination of several problems. People with speech disorders find it difficult to use certain speech sounds, which can also be a symptom of a delay. They may say “see” when they mean “ski” or they may have trouble using other sounds like “l” or “r.” Listeners may have trouble understanding what someone with a speech impediment is trying to say. People with voice disorders may have problems with the way their voice sounds.

A language disorder is an impaired ability to understand and/or use words in context, both verbally and nonverbally. Some characteristics of language disorders include misuse of words and their meanings, inability to express ideas, inappropriate grammatical patterns, reduced vocabulary, and inability to follow instructions. one or one
a combination of these features can occur in children who are affected by language learning disabilities or delayed language development. Children may hear or see a word but not be able to understand its meaning. They may have trouble getting others to understand what they are trying to communicate.

Speech difficulties in adults are also common and come in many forms, including stuttering, dysarthria, voice problems and difficulty with articulation. Often, with speech therapy and certain strategies, many adults can improve their speech and communication skills. There are a number of reasons why speech difficulties occur in adulthood, such as accidents and injuries, illnesses and diseases, articulation difficulties, dysarthria, aphasia, dysfluidity, voice problems.

Types of speech and language disorders

• Articulation disorders: occur when a person cannot correctly pronounce one or more
sounds. This can occur as a result of developmental delay, poor muscle control, cleft lip and palate, hearing impairment, or learning disabilities. Errors in many sounds that form patterns are called phonological disorders. Articulation disorders caused by neurological damage such as stroke or head injury are called motor speech disorders.

• Voice disorders: include inappropriate pitch, volume, quality (hoarseness) or complete loss of voice. May result from damage to the vocal cords due to surgery, misuse of the voice, disease (overuse, shouting or singing) (cancer of the larynx) or other conditions (cleft palate, cerebral palsy or deficiency auditory).

• Fluency disorders: (stuttering) a disturbance in the normal flow of speech rhythm. Features may include repetition of sounds, syllables, words or phrases, hesitations, prolongations or interjections. Behaviors can vary from person to person.

Speech-language pathologists and audiologists: Speech-language pathologists and audiologists are professionals who identify, assess and rehabilitate children and adults who have speech, language or hearing disorders. Speech-language pathologists help individuals overcome and prevent communication problems in language, speech, voice, and fluency.

Audiologists assess the extent of hearing loss, balance and other related disorders and recommend appropriate solutions such as hearing aids. Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists work in private practice, child development centers, preschools, schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, government agencies, health units, industry, colleges , universities and research centers.

Article to mark National Speech-Language Pathologists Day by:

Dr. Usha M, Ph.D., MSc-SLP, PGDPC, PGDYS.
assistant professor,
Department of Speech and Hearing,
Father Muller College

About Thomas Brown

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