Speech disorders are made up by a complex family of conditions that can affect a person’s ability to form phonetic sounds and communicate effectively. They’re not the same as language disorders. Speech disorders are concerned with the correct articulation, while language disorders are focused on an individual ability to learn and understand vocabulary. Here are eight of the most common speech disorders:
Apraxia of Speech (AOS)
Apraxia of speech (AOS) occurs when the neural pathways responsible for a person’s speech are either not present or have suffered damage. In this form of speech impediment, the person in question knows exactly what they want to say, and in many cases are even able to put their thoughts onto paper. However, they’re simply unable to articulate their thoughts.
Stuttering – or stammering – is one of the most widely recognised speech disorders. We’ve all had moments when we’ve struggled to enunciate words or tripped over a difficult sentence either through tiredness or other circumstances. What isn’t as widely known, however, is that stuttering can also include non-verbal involuntary or semi-voluntary actions such as blinking and twitching (Tics and Tourettes).
Dysarthria is caused by nerve or muscle damage within the facial area and so is very much a mechanical form of speech problem. It usually presents itself as slurred speech, difficulty with certain phonic sounds, and limited tongue, jaw and lip movement. The affected muscles that cause the onset of the condition are usually the diaphragm, lips, tongue, and vocal cords.
Spasmodic Dysphonia (SD) is a chronic and long-term disorder that affects vocalisation. It’s caused by the spasming of vocal cords when a person attempts to speak. The resulting effect can be a voice that’s either shaky, horse, moany, restricted, or jittery. It can also cause involuntary inflexions in speech patterns, changing the emphasis placed on certain words and thus the context of a sentence.
Cluttering is a fluency disorder which affects a person’s speech in a very literal way. It’s best described as someone including an unnecessary amount of filler word into their speech pattern such as “um,” “well,” “like,” “hmm,” and so on. This also has a considerable effect on the rate at which a person speaks, and it will start presenting itself in early childhood.
Muteness (Selective Mutism)
Selective mutism can be used as an accurate description for someone who refuses to speak in a large proportion of social situations they’re involved in. But in their case, the reason for not engaging with other’s is psychological rather than due to any form of muscle, neurological or nerve damage. It usually first appears in children who’re intensely shy and /or anxious.
Aphasia is a communication disorder that stems from damage caused to the brain’s capacity to process language commands. It’s different from both apraxia of speech and dysarthria in that it relates only to brain speech and language functioning and nothing else. It’s possible for anyone to suffer from aphasia, given that brain damage can be caused by any number of causes from physical injury to strokes.
Speech Delay – (Alalia)
Speech delay is characterised the delayed development of a child’s ability to internalise and communicate with the level of speech ability that expected for someone of their age. Sometimes, this may be down to a child being a late bloomer. But in other cases, it could be that brain damage might be at play. However, providing a proper diagnosis requires ascertaining whether the speech delay is rooted in speech itself or language as depending on where the issue lies, may indicate that another condition may be the real cause.