Your Guide to Speech and Language Disorders

Millions of adults and children across the country have challenges with speech and language. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 7.5 million people in the United States have difficulties using their voices. A speech disorder is a condition in which an individual has difficulty creating or forming the sounds required to communicate with others (PennMedicine.org). 

Common speech disorders include: 

  • Articulation Disorders
  • Phonological Disorders
  • Disfluency
  • Voice or resonance disorders

It is also important to understand that speech and language disorders are not the same. Examples of language disorders include:

  • Challenges with expressive language (getting one's meaning or message across to others)
  • Challenges with receptive language (understanding the messages coming from others)

Disfluency 

According to PennMedicine.org, disfluencies are disorders in which an individual repeats sounds, words, or phrases. The most serious disfluency is stuttering. Disfluencies may be caused by a range of things, including genetic abnormalities, emotional stress, a trauma to the brain, or an infection. Although stuttering is the most common disfluency, there are many symptoms which include (but are not limited to):

  • Repetition of sounds, words, phrases, etc.
  • Adding extra sounds or words
  • Elongating words
  • Pausing mid sentence or word
  • Tension and frustration when trying to communicate

Articulation, Phonological and Voice Disorders

Three other types of challenges with speech and language include articulation, phonological, and voice disorders. These disorders are created by problems with the structures necessary to make speech sounds, such as a cleft palate, damage to parts of the brain or nerves which control speech, or hearing loss. 

Articulation disorders can be common in school children, especially in the early years and include symptoms such as:

  • Sounds such as "r", "s', or "l" are consistently distorted
  • These errors make it difficult for parents, teachers, and other adults to understand what the child is trying to communicate

With a phonological disorder, a child will not use all of their speech sounds correctly in a way that is developmentally appropriate for their age. For example, first and last sounds of words are omitted or changed or the child will demonstrate an inconsistent ability to use certain sounds. 

Voice disorders typically present in a more "physical" way such as hoarseness, volume and pitch control, running out of air before finishing, or the voice breaking in and out. 

Treatment

Treatment for speech and language disorders begins with your health care provider arranging screenings and tests which will check for underlying conditions, fluency, problems caused in daily life and school, etc. Additionally, there could be other tests performed as well as a hearing test. 

While some children might outgrow mild speech disorders, for many it may be necessary to seek the expertise of a speech therapist. Parallel is pleased to offer speech and language therapy services. Our highly skilled and licensed Speech-Language Pathologists will assess, diagnose, and develop a treatment plan to address communication difficulties. Our therapists cover all domains of communication including:

● Language—how well we understand what we hear or read and how we use words to tell others what we are thinking.

● Literacy—how well we read and write.

● Social communication—how well we follow rules, like taking turns, how to talk to different people, or how close to stand to someone when talking. This is also called pragmatics.

● Fluency—also called stuttering, is how well speech flows.

● Speech sounds—how we say sounds and put sounds together into words.

● Voice—how our voices sound.

Kim Cortes, one of Parallel's Speech and Language Pathologists, states, "To be invited to walk alongside someone in their journey to effectively connect and communicate with those around them is one of the greatest honor's I've been given in my life. For me, being a SLP means being there to help individuals navigate their struggles, celebrate their strengths, and maintain motivation to continue progressing towards their goals. I'm thankful everyday to be a part of such a dynamic and beautiful profession!"

For more information on our speech and language services and to tailor an assessment and treatment plan that is perfect for you or your family member, please book your free consultation here or call (914) 377-5655!

Author

Reviewer

Kim Cortes
Speech and Language Pathologist

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