Speech disorders can be caused by a variety of factors, including developmental delays, inherited conditions, and brain coordination issues. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) specialize in treating these conditions, which can range from apraxia of childhood speech to stuttering and dysarthria. In this article, we'll explore the most common speech disorders, their causes, and how SLPs can help. Apraxia of childhood speech is a condition in which a child has difficulty making precise movements when speaking.
It occurs because the brain has difficulty coordinating movements. This type of disorder is caused by abnormal growth and development of facial muscles and bones, though the exact cause is not known. People with orofacial myofunctional disorders may have problems eating, talking, breathing through the nose, swallowing, or drinking. Speech apraxia (OSA) is another type of speech disorder.
It occurs when the neural pathway between the brain and a person's speech function (speech muscles) is lost or obscured. The person knows what they want to say but can't articulate it because the brain can't send the right messages to the speech muscles. Many SLPs specialize in treating apraxia.
Stutteringis one of the most common speech disorders.
Everyone has probably had moments of stuttering at least once in their life. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates that three million Americans stutter and reports that three-quarters of them will outgrow it. Dysarthria is a symptom of damage to nerves or muscles that affects a person's ability to speak. It can cause slow speech, limited movements of the tongue, jaw or lips, abnormal rhythm and tone when speaking, changes in voice quality, difficulty articulating, difficulty speaking, and other related symptoms.
As an SLP, there's not much you can do about muscle damage, and even less you can do about nerve damage. Therefore, treatments focus on managing the symptoms through behavioral changes such as helping a person slow down when speaking, training breathing, and exercising the muscles involved in speech. Cluttering is another type of fluency disorder that is characterized by a person's speech being too fast, too abrupt, or both. It also includes excessive amounts of “good” fillers such as “hmm” or “like that” (speech disfluences), an excessive exclusion or collapse of syllables, or abnormal tensions or rhythms of syllables.
The first symptoms of this disorder appear in childhood and SLPs can have a big impact on improving or eliminating it. Selective mutism involves a team of professionals that includes pediatricians, psychologists, psychiatrists, and SLPs. It's important to eliminate other types of disorders such as stuttering, aphasia, apraxia of speech or dysarthria as possibilities before making a diagnosis. Aphasia is a communication disorder caused by damage to the brain's language abilities that affects only the speech and language center of the brain. Other types of speech disorders include apraxia and dysarthria which affect nerve connections and organs of speech; cleft palate; hearing loss; stuttering; autism; and lisps which are functional speech disorders that SLPs can help correct with often complete elimination of lisseness as a result. The type of treatment for these disorders will generally depend on the severity and underlying cause.
Speech therapy is one option for those suffering from these conditions and it involves practicing specific sounds or words to become familiar with certain speech patterns. At Insight in Flint Michigan they provide an additional level of experience treating patients with speech and language disorders. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the national professional association with 223,000 members who are audiologists, SLPs, speech-language pathologists, support staff in audiology and speech-language pathology; and students. Speech disorders can be caused by many different factors but with proper diagnosis and treatment from an SLP they can be managed effectively.