What are Speech and Language Disorders?

Speech and language disorders refer to problems in communication and related areas such as oral motor function, and/or the functioning of the mouth and tongue.  They can range from simple sound substitutions to the inability to understand or use language.  Some individuals may not be able to use the oral-motor mechanism for functional speech and eating.

 

Some causes of speech and language disorders include hearing loss, neurological disorders, brain injury, mental retardation, drug abuse, physical impairments, such as cleft lip or palate, and vocal abuse or misuse.  Frequently the cause is unknown.

 

Speech disorders refer to difficulties producing speech sounds or problems with voice quality.  They may be characterized by an interruption in the flow or rhythm of speech such as stuttering, the way sounds are formed, or the volume or quality of the voice.  They may be combinations of several problems.

 

A language disorder is an impairment of the ability to understand and/or use words in context, both verbally and non-verbally.  Some characteristics of language disorders include improper use of words and meanings, an inability to express ideas, inappropriate grammatical patterns, reduced vocabulary and an inability to follow directions.  People with language learning disabilities may not be able to understand a specific word, or may have trouble getting others to understand what they are trying to communicate.

 

Because of the way the brain develops, it is easier to learn language and communication skills before the age of 5.  Communication is considered delayed when a child is noticeably behind his or her peers in development of speech and/or language skills.

 

If you would like more information please contact The American Speech, Language and Hearing Association at 800-638-8255, or visit them online at www.asha.org.

 

Phone code: 1716

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