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Speech disorders can affect the way a person creates sounds to form words. Certain voice disorders may also be considered speech disorders.
One of the most commonly experienced speech disorders is stuttering. Other speech disorders include:
Some people with speech disorders are aware of what they would like to say, but are unable to articulate their thoughts. This may lead to self-esteem issues and the development of depression.
Speech disorders can affect adults and children. Early treatment can correct these conditions.
Speech disorders affect the vocal cords, muscles, nerves, and other structures within the throat.
Causes may include:
People who have certain medical or developmental conditions may also have speech disorders. Common conditions that can lead to speech disorders are:
Speech disorders may be hereditary, and they can develop over time.
Depending on the cause of the speech disorder, several symptoms may be present. Common symptoms experienced by people with speech disorders are:
The Denver articulation screening examination is the most commonly used testing system to diagnose speech disorders. This test evaluates the clarity in pronunciation in children between the ages of 2 and 7. This five-minute test uses various exercises to assess the child’s speech.
This test determines a child’s language development. This test can quickly identify delayed speech or language disorders.
This test measures a person’s vocabulary and ability to speak. The person will listen to various words and choose pictures that describe the words. People who have severe intellectual disabilities and those who are blind will not able to take this assessment. The Peabody picture vocabulary test has been revised many times since its first version was administered in 1959.
Mild speech disorders may not require any treatment. Some speech disorders may simply go away. Others can improve with speech therapy.
Treatment varies and depends on the type of disorder. In speech therapy, a professional therapist will guide you through exercises that work to strengthen the muscles in the face and throat. You’ll learn to control your breathing while speaking. Muscle-strengthening exercises and controlled breathing help improve the way your words sound. You’ll also learn ways to practice smoother, more fluent speech.
Some people with speech disorders experience nervousness, embarrassment, or depression. Talk therapy may be helpful in these situations. A therapist will discuss ways to cope with the condition and ways to improve the outlook of your condition. If your depression is severe, antidepressant medications can help.
Untreated speech disorders may cause a person to experience a great deal of anxiety. Over time, this anxiety can trigger anxiety disorders or a phobia of speaking in public. Early treatment for anxiety can help prevent the development of anxiety disorders or phobias. Treatment options include talk therapy and anti-anxiety medications.
The outlook improves for people who seek early treatment. Early treatment helps prevent a speech disorder from worsening. The outlook for those with permanent disabilities depends upon the severity of the disability.
Written by: April Kahn
Medically reviewed on: Nov 24, 2015: Mark R Laflamme, MD
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