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Speech and Language Disorders

A Communication disorder is an inability to use or understand language and speech. Communication disorders include phonological disorder, expressive language disorder, mixed receptive-expressive language disorder, and stuttering. The disorders can range from simple sound replacement to the difficulty in understanding or using language.

Child Language Disorders

A child with language disorders may be unable to talk, but still able to communicate using sign language. The causes of language disorders may include hearing impairments, meningitis, cerebral palsy, chronic otitis media, Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, autism, and elective mutism. Treatment for the disorder is directed at the cause.

Adult Language Disorders

In adults, languages disorders may result from disorders carried forward from childhood or an acquired disorder. Common types of adult language disorders are aphasia, apraxia, dysarthria, dysphagia, linguistic-cognitive communication, and brain injury such as head injury, stroke, or aneurysm.

Voice Disorders

Voice Disorders are conditions that affect the production of speech. The disorders include vocal fold nodules, vocal cord paresis, puberphonia, chorditis, and spasmodic dysphonia. Voice therapy is commonly used for treating voice disorders. Occasionally, surgery is done to remove cancerous cells or repair damaged vocal folds.


Speech and language therapy is the recommended treatment for kids with communication disorders. Speech-language pathologists identify types of disorder and the best method to treat them. The outlook of this therapy may differ, based on the cause and severity of the disorder.

Speech Sound Disorders

A speech sound disorder is a problem in making sounds. This disorder is classified into four divisions: articulation disorders, phonemic disorders, mixed speech sound disorders, and residual errors. Children with this disorder may omit certain sounds, add extra sounds, substitute one or more sounds, or change sounds slightly.


Dysphagia or swallowing disorders, relates to difficulty in swallowing. There are two main types of dysphagia: oropharyngeal dysphagia and esophageal dysphagia. Oropharyngeal dysphagia is a swallowing problem in the mouth and the esophageal dysphagia is a problem in the esophagus. Based on the type of dysphagia, treatment may include medication, surgery, muscle exercises, and consulting a speech pathologist.

Fluency Disorders

Fluency disorders are characterized by the interruption in the fluidity of speech. The prevalence of fluency disorders is very high in children, especially in boys. The types of fluency disorders that are most prevalent are: psychogenic disfluency, stuttering, normal developmental disfluency, neurogenic disfluency, mixed fluency failures, and language based disfluency.

Augmentative Communication

Augmentative communication is an alternative method to help people with language disorders use expressive or receptive language. This system uses technology, symbols, aids, and strategies to help people to overcome the disorder.

Prevention of Communication Disorders

Specific preventive methods for communication disorders are not known at this time. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has developed a curriculum guide for speech-language pathologists and audiologists. This contains three levels of prevention: primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. The main aim of this program is to promote investigations and prevent communication disorders.

More About Stuttering

Stuttering is a speech condition that disrupts the fluency of speech. People who stutter may repeat the same sound or have prolonged pronunciation of a particular sound. There have been famous people throughout history that have dealt with stuttering. Some of those people include: Winston Churchill, Ty Cobb, Charles Darwin, Marilyn Monroe, Samuel L. Jackson, and James Earl Jones.

While there is no definitive cause of stuttering, speech experts believe that stutterers experience muscle tension in the speech muscles, combined with anxiety and fear that causes stuttering to become worse.

Children may suffer from developmental stuttering, which is stuttering that develops as a child is learning language and speech processes. Most children will show signs of stuttering around age 3, and girls are more likely to recover from a stuttering condition than boys. Pediatric speech language pathologists can help young children overcome stuttering. With consistent treatment, many kids can overcome stuttering in a few months to a couple of years.

People dealing with stuttering can receive speech language therapy to reduce or eliminate the stuttering. Speech therapy exercises may include learning how to control the speech muscles, blending sounds together, drawing out a sound a person stutters on and connecting it to other sounds, slowing the rate of speech to reduce stuttering, and giving basic education on how the vocal cords, mouth, and speech muscles work together in the speech process.

Many famous leaders and media personalities have risen above speech impediments including modern day American actor James Earl Jones, and as you may have gathered, King George VI of Great Britain.

Overcoming Speech Impediments – The King’s Speech Uncovers the Journey to Overcome a Stutter

Many great leaders have been afflicted with speech impediments yet have risen to the challenge and overcame their challenges.

The 2010 movie, The King’s Speech, starring Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush, won numerous accolades as it shone light on the host of struggles Bertie (George VI) experienced to simply communicate comfortably in public and via live radio broadcasts.

Based on the true story, the movie chronicled the journey of the soon-to-be King of England, Bertie, as he worked to overcome this stuttering. Bertie had never thought his voice would be thrust on the global stage, let alone be made king. Even so, after his brother Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936, he dutifully reigned as King of England during a critical time in world history leading up to World War II. Bertie needed to make a big speech to comfort his people and inform them of what was to come.

Do You Have an Experience with a Language and Speech Disorder or Impediment?

If you’d like to share tips that you have for overcoming specific speech difficulties or impediments, please post them as comments below. We could all benefit from your story!

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  • Avatar for Probir Karmakar
    Probir Karmakar
    February 12, 2019, 8:42 am

    Very informative article. Looking forward to more posts in near future.

  • Avatar for Bree Ward
    Bree Ward
    May 3, 2019, 11:14 pm

    My friend’s son has selective mutism, and she was looking for speech therapies and counselor to help him. As you said, speech disorder like this is associated with the inability to talk because of childhood anxiety. I hope she’ll find a speech therapist and counselor soon.