As children begin to speak and learn language, there may be a variety of disorders or conditions which could hinder them along the way. It’s important to become familiar with some of the most common, so that you know what you may expect, or what type of action should be taken. Here’s a guide to some of the most common speech disorders in children.
- Childhood Apraxia of Speech: This is motor speech disorder in which the brain has difficulty planning and sequencing movement of the articulators, and can result in difficulty producing sounds, syllables and words. The child may be able to internally process what he or she wanted to say, but may struggle to physically coordinate the movements to produce speech.
- Stuttering: Stuttering is quite common, but can range greatly in terms of severity. An evaluation of an individual’s stuttering pattern would take into account family history, concomitant speech or language disorders, the presence of avoidance behaviors or secondary behaviors (e.g., grimacing, blinking), evaluation of the nature of the speaker’s disfluencies, and the speaker’s own views of his or her stuttering and how it affects his or her life.
- Receptive-Expressive Language Impairment: An expressive language disorder relates to problems with a child getting his or her message across to others, while a receptive disorder relates to issues understanding an incoming message. Jointly a mixed receptive-expressive language disorder would have symptoms of both conditions.
- Language-Based Learning Disabilities: This refers to a potentially wide range of different conditions, which hinder a child’s ability with age-appropriate reading, spelling and writing. Due to the relationship between spoken and written language, children with language-based learning disabilities may present with challenges with spoken language as well.
- Phonological Disorder: A phonological disorder is a condition which affects a person’s ability to discriminate among and produce patterns of sounds. That means entire types of sounds may be omitted, or replaced with other entire types of sounds, i.e., replacing hard /k/ sounds with /t/ sounds, even though the child may be able to physically produce the /k/ and /t/ sounds in isolation.
- Articulation Disorder: An articulation disorder is a type of speech-sound disorder, which relates to problems producing speech sounds. As such, certain sounds may be incorrectly substituted or omitted, or even added, to words.
By no means is this a comprehensive collection of speech disorders in children, but it does include a number of common conditions. Hopefully you’ve been able to gain new insight into terminology you may have previously heard of, but were unaware about what the real implications were.
If your child has been diagnosed with a speech disorder, or you believe he or she may have one, it’s important to receive an evaluation from a certified pediatric speech pathologist.