A girl at home with a speech disorder taking online speech therapy classes from her laptop

What is the Most Common Type of Speech Disorder?

What is a Speech Disorder? Is a Speech Disorder a Disability?

Spoken language is one of the primary ways in which we communicate and express our thoughts, feelings, and ideas to others. Speaking requires the precise coordination of several body parts and systems, which include the head, neck, chest, and abdomen. A speech disorder is a condition that causes difficulty creating or producing the speech sounds that are needed to communicate. A speech disorder makes speech difficult to understand by others. 

Speech disorders are different from language disorders in that language disorders refer to someone having difficulty with expressing their meaning or getting their message across when speaking (expressive language) as well as difficulty understanding the meaning or messages coming from those speaking to them (receptive language). In most cases, speech disorders are considered disabilities, and proper support and guidance are vital. Speech and language disorders can affect people of all ages, and a speech therapist can help with the challenges these disorders present. You can learn more about speech therapy by connecting with a speech therapist and scheduling your free introductory call today! 

What are the Types of Speech Disorders?

Speech disorders can present differently and vary widely between people. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to speech disorders and their treatment. A speech therapist is the best resource to help someone who is affected by a speech disorder. Some of the most common speech disorders treated by an SLP are:

Articulation Disorders

An articulation disorder is defined as difficulty in producing a single or a few sounds or consistently mispronouncing specific consonants and vowels. Sounds can be substituted, left off, added, or changed. A lisp, defined as the inability to pronounce the S sound and Z sound properly because of tongue placement, is a prime and familiar example of an articulation problem. Many individuals experience difficulty with the R sound, often substituting the letter W, saying ‘wabbit’ instead of ‘rabbit’ for example.

Phonological Disorders

Phonological disorders are a type of speech sound disorder but are different from more common articulation disorders. As they develop articulation skills, some children have difficulty imitating all the sounds that they hear. To overcome this challenge, the brain creates rules to simplify communication and make words easier to say.  For example, some sounds that are produced in the back of the mouth like (/k/ and /g/) are often difficult for kids to say so they simplify it by making a rule to make the sounds in the front of the mouth as it is easier, so “tootie” is substituted for “cookie”. Another common example of phonological processes is final consonant deletion where “dog” becomes “dah” and “cat” becomes “ca”.

Dysfluency / Stuttering

Stuttering is a type of speech disorder that affects the fluency of speech and is often referred to as dysfluency. The signs and symptoms of stuttering often include repetitions of words, sounds, or syllables as well as prolongations of words. Sometimes there is overuse of the words “um” or “uh,” which can make it difficult to hold a conversation.

Apraxia

Apraxia is a motor speech disorder that results in difficulty speaking. Some people are not able to move and control their lips, jaw, or tongue in the right ways, even though the muscles themselves are not weak. Sometimes apraxia means the person is not able to say much at all, despite knowing what they want to say. The problem lies not in how the person thinks but how the brain communicates with the mouth muscles and tells them to move.

Dysarthria

Dysarthria is a type of speech disorder that is caused by muscle weakness which can make it hard to talk and be understood by others. Dysarthria refers to a group of neurogenic speech disorders that are characterized by differences in the strength, range, speed, steadiness, accuracy or tone, of the movements and processes that are required for functions such as breathing, swallowing, and the phonatory, resonatory, and articulatory aspects of speech production.

Voice Disorders / Dysphonia

A Voice Disorder occurs when voice quality, pitch, and loudness differ or are inappropriate for an individual’s age, gender, cultural background, or geographic location.” Another term used to describe voice disorders is dysphonia, which means an impairment of the voice. Voice Disorders can be due to organic, functional, or psychogenic reasons.

If you or someone you love is affected by a speech disorder, help is available. Get started by scheduling your free introductory call today. 

What are The Signs of a Speech Disorder?

The signs and symptoms of speech disorders vary significantly and depend on the severity and cause of the disorder. Some people develop multiple speech and language disorders with varying symptoms. 

Those with one or more speech disorders may exhibit some or all of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Repetition or Prolongment of Sounds
  • Distortion of Sounds
  • Addition of Sounds, Sound Combinations, or Syllables to Words
  • Produce Syllables in the Incorrect Order
  • Difficulty Pronouncing Words Correctly
  • Struggles to Say the Right Word or Sound
  • Has a Hoarse or Raspy Voice
  • Difficulty Managing the Volume of their Voice 

What Causes Speech Disorders?

There are all kinds of things that can cause difficulties related to speech, language, and communication. Some of the most common of these are:

  • Damage to the Brain from a Stroke or Head Injury
  • Muscle Atrophy or Weakness
  • Damage to the Vocal Cords 
  • Degenerative Diseases, such as Huntington’s disease or Parkinson’s disease
  • Dementia
  • Cancer affecting the Mouth or Throat
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Down Syndrome
  • Hearing Loss

What Increases the Risk for Speech Disorders?

There are several things that put someone at an increased risk of developing a speech disorder. They are:

  • Being Male
  • Premature Birth
  • Low Birth Weight
  • Family History of Speech Disorders

How Does Speech Therapy Help with Speech Disorders?

Speech-language therapy is the best course of treatment for people affected by speech and/or language disorders. In speech-language therapy, an SLP works with their patient one on one, in a small group, or in a classroom to work towards meeting their goals and overcoming challenges. Speech therapists use a wide variety of strategies and approaches, creating a custom and unique treatment plan for each of their patients. 

Treatment for a speech disorder will include simple interactions such as playing and talking, as well as the use of pictures, books, objects, and other language intervention activities to stimulate the development of communication skills. The therapist may also model the correct placement of the lips, tongue, and jaw to produce certain letter and speech sounds that are the most challenging. Treatment also includes the setting of appropriate and attainable goals that the speech therapist will work together with their patient to achieve. With the right support and resources and some dedication and time, people affected by speech disorders can see significant improvement and development of their communication skills. The path to better speech and language skills and increased confidence is a click away – schedule your free introductory call with Great Speech today!