Communication Disorders...

can significantly affect a child's performance in school as well as an individual's quality of life. Effective communication can help individuals succeed in school, in their career, and socially in life. Approximately 5-10% of the population has some type of communication disorder involving speech, language and/or hearing (National Center for Health Statistics). Sadly, young people with communication disorders often face verbal abuse from classmates.

Communication disorders can develop at any age. Contrary to popular belief, many children do not "grow out of" these disorders. Problems that are not identified and treated early can become even more severe later. For children, these problems can interfere with language development, social emotional growth and readiness skills. Later, they may lead to low self-esteem, poor academic and social success, and a high drop out rate. As an adult, these problems can interfere with job performance, decrease interaction with friends/family, and can cause social isolation. To help manage or overcome communication challenges, a Speech-language pathologist helps prevent, identify, assess, treat, and rehabilitate communication disorders. In addition, he/she works in collaboration with parents, caregivers, teachers, and other professionals to ensure the individual's communication needs are being met.

The following information is to help you better understand and recognize the signs of communication disorders, so that you or your loved one get the help you need.

Articulation Delay/Disorder

Difficulty in speech sound production that attracts negative attention or lessens intelligibility, and/or disturbs substituting one sound for another (e.g.; "wabbit" for rabbit), omitting a sound (e.g.; "han" for hand) or distorting a sound (e.g.; "shlip" for ship).


A disorder of the nervous system that affects the ability to sequence and say sounds in syllables and words. Individuals know what they want to say, but their brains have difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say the words.


A motor speech disorder resulting from neurological injury. The muscles of the mouth, face, and respiratory system may become weak, move slowly, or not move at all. Symptoms may include: "slurred" speech, slow rate of speech, drooling, etc.

Voice Disorder

Any deviation in pitch, quality or loudness of the voice. It interferes with communication, draws unfavorable attention or is inappropriate to the age or sex of the individual. It is often characterized by chronic hoarseness, laryngitis, pitch breaks, excessive breathiness or nasality.

Stuttering/Fluency Disorder

A communication disorder that interrupts the flow of rhythm of speech. Stuttered speech often includes repetitions of words, parts of words or prolongations of speech sounds. At times, the flow of speech may become completely stopped or blocked. Stuttering also has secondary behaviors, physical tension, avoidance of words, etc.

Language Delays/Disorders

Language is a code made up of rules that include what words mean, how to make words, how to put them together, and what word combinations are best in what situations. A delay/disorder may affect a person's ability to use words properly, use appropriate sentence structure, follow directions, and interact with peers.

Accent Modification

Accents reflect the unique characteristics and background of a person. Accent modification is not a speech or language disorder. it is an individual's preference to modify or reduce their accent and improve their overall communication.


A disorder that results from damage to the language centers in the brain. Language can be affected not only in its oral form of talking and understanding, but also in its written form of reading and writing. Characteristics may include word finding problems and difficulty following directions or conversations.

Auditory Processing Disorder

A deficit in processing information that is specific to the auditory modality. It affects a person's ability to distinguish, recognize and/or integrate auditory information. Comprehending speech is difficult, despite normal hearing. Persons with APD may exhibit poor listening skills, academic difficulty, reading and spelling difficulty, problems with attention deficit or other auditory related difficulties.

Dysphagia, Feeding and Swallowing Disorders

Dysphagia is the inability to swallow correctly. Individuals with feeding and swallowing disorders are at risk for malnutrtion, dehydration, and respiratory porblems. Some symptoms may include: poor feeding, difficulty chewing, difficulty drinking, coughing, or choking while eating or drinking, etc.


A complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first two years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults on the autism spectrum typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.


Speech-Language -hearing screenings are available at preschools, grade schools, and in the office to identify children who may need further assessment in speech, language, or hearing skills. Early identification and treatment for a communication disorder is vital.

An untreated speech or language disorder can limit educational achievement, harm promising careers and inhibit personal relationships. Please be sure you or your loved one receives the treatment the need.