Types of Speech and Language Disorders
Exploring Types of Speech and Language Disorders
- Childhood apraxia of speech: Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), also called verbal dyspraxia or developmental apraxia, is often caused by a genetic disorder, stroke, or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Children with CAS often put stress on the wrong syllables, distort or change speech sounds, change the way they say words, and have difficulty pronouncing long words. During treatment, speech-language therapists work with children on fine motor skills, intonation, and the movements associated with the creation of sounds.
- Stuttering: Roughly 3 million Americans have a stuttering disorder, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders. Stuttering is the repetition of sounds or syllables, as well as the prolonging of certain words and other verbal disruptions. Treatment for stuttering differs based on age and other factors, though it typically includes breathing techniques, speaking slowly, and treatments related to anxiety.
- Cleft lip: Cleft lips and palates are the most common birth defects in the United States, though the cause remains unknown. A cleft lip is a split in the upper lip, which, if not treated promptly, can create difficulties in speech formation. Generally, a cleft lip is remedied by surgical procedure to close the gap, which is often done before the child turns 1 year old.
- Brain injuries: Brain injuries that impact speech and language include TBI and right hemisphere brain injury. Right hemisphere brain injuries affect processes related to speech and language, such as attention, memory, and problem-solving. TBIs involve blows to the head that result in damage to the brain. These can weaken speech muscles or cause cognitive issues that make understanding or expressing thoughts difficult. Both injuries require attention from a medical doctor as well as a speech-language professional to strengthen speech muscles and improve memory, attention, and conversation skills.
- Oral and esophageal cancers: It is possible to develop cancer of the lips, jaw, tongue, gums, cheeks, throat, or esophagus. These can create problems with speech, as well as chewing and swallowing. The risk of developing any of these cancers increases with excessive drinking of alcohol and use of tobacco products. Typically, individuals who develop these cancers work with medical professionals to treat the disease. Speech-language professionals then help patients as needed to redevelop their muscles, improve mouth movement, and facilitate recovery for chewing and swallowing.
- Dementia: Dementia can be caused by Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, Parkinson’s disease, or other diseases. People with advanced dementia may not be able to feed themselves or speak clearly. Speech-language therapists can help those with dementia maintain independence for as long as possible by assisting with memory and motor skills and using written words to help them complete tasks.
- Voice disorders: Voice disorders are very common among adults. They may last a few days or much longer. Voice disorders include vocal fold nodules and polyps, vocal fold paralysis, paradoxical vocal fold movement, and spasmodic dysphonia. Most of these disorders require a combination of medical treatment, surgery, and speech-language therapy to help patients reclaim full expressive capacity.