Speech disorders refer to several conditions in which a person has difficulty communicating by mouth.
See also: Speech impairment
Articulation deficiency; Voice disorders; Disfluency
Speech is one of the primary ways we communicate with those around us. It is an effective way to monitor normal growth and development as well as to identify potential problems.
Disfluencies are rhythm disorders that are usually characterized by the repetition of a sound, word, or phrase. Stuttering is perhaps the most serious disfluency.
Articulation deficiencies involve sounds made incorrectly or inappropriately.
Voice disorders involve abnormalities in the quality, pitch, and loudness of the sound.
There are many potential causes of speech impairment. The most common cause is mental retardation. Other causes may include:
Delayed speech development is one of the common symptoms of developmentally delayed children. It occurs in 5 - 10% of all children. Boys are three to four times as likely to have speech disorders as girls.
The following tests can help diagnose speech disorders:
A hearing test may also be done.
The best treatment is prevention and early intervention by a speech pathologist. Speech training is an involved and time-consuming endeavor that can have profound results with consistent treatment.
The prognosis depends on the cause of the disorder. Usually, speech can be improved with speech therapy. Prognosis improves with early intervention.
Speech disorders may lead to psychosocial problems associated with ineffective communication.
Call your health care provider if:
Mental retardation and hearing loss make children more likely to develop speech disorders. At-risk infants should be referred to an audiologist for an audiology exam. Audiological and speech therapy can then be started, if necessary.
As young children begin to speak, some disfluency is common. Children lack a large vocabulary and have difficulty expressing themselves. This results in broken speech. If you place excessive attention on the disfluency, a stuttering pattern may develop. The best way to prevent stuttering, therefore, is to avoid paying too much attention to the disfluency.