Whether you want to deliver a message or receive any information, life becomes extremely difficult if you are not able to communicate. Speech disorder is one of the communication disorder in which a person is not able to speak normally. His speech gets disrupted. The person is not able to clearly form words from the sound created. Stuttering or stammering is the commonest example of speech disorder. Difficulty in speaking or articulating words mostly develops in childhood.
Types of Speech Disorder
Speech disorders are various types. Let us know what they are.
- Stuttering or stammering: It is one of the most common forms of speech disorder. At least 1 percent of population suffers from stammering. It usually starts in childhood and can continue in adulthood. Stammering is characterized by repetition and prolongation of words, sound, phrases and syllables. In this type the flow of speech is interrupted. Often there is hereditary history of stuttering. Many children outgrow this disorder as they grow older.
- Apraxia: It is a speech disorder that occurs due to damage in the brain area controlling speech. People suffering from stroke often suffer from apraxia. In this type the speech is inconsistent and person is finds difficulty in arranging words. For example to speak ‘potato’ he may say ‘topato’ etc. Speaking with effort is more difficult but phrases spoken spontaneously are easier.
- Dysarthria: It is a speech disorder that occurs due to paralysis of muscles involved in speech. It occurs due to damage to the nerves that innervate these muscles. Muscle in face, throat become weak and hence patient experiences difficulty in speaking fluently. People suffering from stroke, head injury, surgery of brain and Parkinson’s disease often suffer from dysarthria.
- Muteness: In this disorder the person is unable to speak. It can develop or may be since birth. In some cases anxiety can produce muteness.
Causes of Speech Disorder
Speech disorder is caused when the structures in the throat such as muscles of voice box, nerves and muscles of throat get affected and weak. It may result from various causes such as:
- Damage to the vocal cord.
- Brain damage
- Weakness of throat muscles
- Respiratory weakness
- Vocal cord paralysis
- Nodes in vocal cord.
- Child suffering from autism
- Person suffering from oral cancer.
- Cancer of larynx
- Mouth cancer
- Huntington’s disease
- Hearing loss since childhood
- Mental retardation
- Cleft palate or cleft lip
- Abuse of voice
Treatment of Speech Disorders
Speech disorder in most cases can be successfully overcome with early speech therapy and hard work. In majority of children speech disorder goes away as they grow. There are many others who improve with regular speech therapy. In speech therapy, the therapist guides the patient how to speak. He teaches several exercise that help to strengthen muscles of throat, voice box and oral cavity. He also teaches controlled breathing. Exercise to strengthen muscles and controlled breathing both help in improving smooth and fluent speech. Many patients experience low self esteem and embarrassment due to their speaking disability. These people may require psychological counseling. In case of severe depression due to speech disorder, patient may also need antidepressant medicines.