Speech disorders - children

Definition

Speech disorders refer to several conditions in which a person has problems creating or forming the speech sounds needed to communicate with others.

Three common speech disorders are:

Speech disorders are different from language disorder in children, such as:

See: Language disorder - children

Alternative Names

Articulation deficiency; Voice disorders; Vocal disorders; Disfluency; Communication disorder - speech disorder

Causes

Speech is one of the main ways in which we communicate with those around us. It develops naturally, along with other signs of normal growth and development.

Disfluencies are disorders in which a person repeats a sound, word, or phrase. Stuttering may be the most serious disfluency.

Articulation disorders may have no clear cause. They may also occur in other family members. Other causes include:

See also: Phonological disorders

Voice disorders are caused by problems when air passes from the lungs, through the vocal cords, and then through the throat, nose, mouth, and lips. A voice disorder may be due to:

Symptoms

Disfluency (stuttering is the most common type of disfluency):

Articulation disorder:

See also: Phonological disorders

Voice disorders:

Exams and Tests

The following tests can help diagnose speech disorders:

A hearing test may also be done.

Treatment

Milder forms of speech disorders may disappear on their own.

Speech therapy may help with more severe symptoms or speech problems that do not improve.

In therapy, the child will learn how to create certain sounds.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The prognosis depends on the cause of the disorder. Usually, speech can be improved with speech therapy. Prognosis improves with early intervention.

Possible Complications

Speech disorders may lead to psychosocial problems associated with ineffective communication.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

Prevention

Intellectual disability 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.

References

Friedman O, Wang TD, Milczuk HA. Cleft lip and palate. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund VJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2010: chap 188.

Choi SS, Zalzal GH. Voice disorders. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund VJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2010: chap 203.

Sharp HM, Hillenbrand K. Speech and language development and disorders in children. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2008;55:1159-1173.

Simms MD. Language disorders in children: classification and clinical syndromes. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2007;54:437-467.

Specific language and learning disabilities. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 32.

Simms MD, Schum RL. Language development and communication disorders, In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. NelsonTextbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap32.