Speech and Language Disorders

Fluency
Also called “stuttering” or “stammering”. This is characterized by disruptions in the flow, smoothness, or rhythm of speech. The most common dysfluencies are repetition and prologations of speech sounds, as well as blocks (or blocking) of speech. In addition to the speech disruptions, secondary behaviours such as eye blinks, facial movements, and excess muscle tension may be present. Therapy aims to reduce the dysfluencies in speech as well to to minimize any secondary behaviours. The emotions and attitude one has towards speech are very important and are also addressed in the treatment process. For the treatment of stuttering in young children, the Lidcombe program for Early Intervention is the preferred program at the Guelph Speech and Language Centre.

There are few characters who stutter portrayed in popular culture. In the children’s animated show, Arthur, a classmate who stutters finds her voice. Watch the episode here.

Voice
A voice disorder refers to any aspect of loudness, pitch, or quality of the voice that differs from what is expected for a person’s age and sex. A person experiencing a voice disorder may also feel difficulty in producing or projecting their voice, or even pain when they speak. An evaluation by an otolaryngologist (physician specializing in the ear, nose, and throat) is required before assessment or treatment can begin.

Aphasia
Refers to a language disorder due to brain damage or disease and affects the ability to formulate, express and/or understand language. Aphasia can affect spoken or written language.

Watch The Treasure Hunt: a short movie for children to explain about stroke and aphasia.

Apraxia and Dysarthria
These terms refer to motor disorders, which means there is difficulty in controlling or producing the muscle movements required to make speech sounds. The muscles may be weak, or may not move far enough or fast enough in the mouth to make the speech sounds, or they may not move in a coordinated way. Apraxia and dysarthria can exist on their own, or they may occur with aphasia.

Cognitive-Communication
This refers to skills required to be an effective communicator. It includes: attention, organization, memory, problem-solving, reasoning, and humor. It can be difficult to follow conversation, plots of movies or books, or write letters if you have difficulty with cognitive-communication.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
AAC is a means of enhancing or replacing speech and writing as communication, when someone is unable to produce or understand speech or language. AAC can be unaided such as the use of facial expressions or gesture, or it can be aided and include systems such as letter boards, writing, or computerized voice systems.