What are Speech Disorders?

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Communication is a gift that must not be taken for granted.

Many of us tend to forget how effortless it is to speak confidently when talking to friends or family members. It could be frustrating when one tries to express their thoughts, and their vocal cords don’t play along. Stuttering and other speaking disorders make it difficult to convey even the simplest of ideas, leading to social anxiety or even depression among individuals suffering from speech disorders. 

What are Speech Disorders?

Speech disorders affect how a person produces sounds to form words, which results in voice disorders and are thus also considered speech disorders.

One of the commonly known speech disorders is stuttering. Other speech disorders are named dysarthria and Apraxia.

  • Apraxia; is a motor speech disorder. It is caused when the parts of the brain that are related to speaking get damaged.
  • Dysarthria: It is also a motor speech disorder, but it is caused when the muscles of the face, mouth, or respiratory system become weak. As a result, the patient has difficulty in moving these fascial parts; difficulty in pronunciation.

What are Other Issues that are Caused Due to Speech Impediments?

Studies also show that people suffering from speech impediments are well aware of what they want to say but face difficulty articulating their thoughts, leading to self-esteem issues, social anxiety, self-doubt, self-criticism, and depression.

Speech disorders affect adults as well as children. Early diagnosis and treatment under the supervision of a speech pathologist or an experienced ENT specialist can minimize or say these conditions.

What are the Major Causes of Speech Disorders?

There could be several possible causes of speech disorders. For instance;

  • Muscles weakness
  • Brain injuries
  • Traumatic Childhood injuries
  • Degenerative diseases
  • Autism

Or

  • Hearing loss. 

Speech impediments can thus affect a person’s self-esteem and, eventually, the overall quality of life.

What Are the Five Most Common Speech Disorders in Adults

Some of the commonly known speech disorders are as follows;

  1. Stuttering
  2. Apraxia
  3. Dysarthria
  4. Voice disorders involving the larynx (voice box)
  5. Aphasia

Stuttering and other speech illnesses make it challenging to communicate even the most straightforward ideas and thus trap patients in social isolation and depression.

Following is a brief discussion about everyday speech disorders that are observed in children and adults.

  1. Stuttering

It may be a surprise for many of us that many known and celebrated artists from the entertainment industry have experienced stuttering, to name one is James Earl Jones.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, stuttering usually begins in childhood and sadly can last throughout someone’s life. However, early diagnosis and consistent treatment from the experienced pathologist and an ENT specialist are vital to treating the ailment.

What Causes Stuttering?

While researchers have not stated an exact cause of stuttering, but it is believed this speech ailment is caused due to some genetic anomaly/modulation—people who stutter be likely to have someone in the family who stutter.

Some external factors can also be compounded to cause stutter.

A traumatic childhood, abuse, low self-esteem, body shaming, social embarrassment can also contribute to anxiety, which results in; tightens speech muscles and thus leads to a speech impediment.

How is Stuttering Treated?

Treatment involves working with a speech pathologist. ENT specialist and pathologists, professionals work with both adults and children to treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders.

Those who stutter work to control their speech rate and monitor breathing. As they practice these techniques, the speech will improve over time.

2. Apraxia

People having Apraxia can not produce correct sounds because they can not move their tongue and lips conveniently.

In extreme conditions, Apraxia can even render patients unable to speak at all. Apraxia patients produce made-up words or sayings. For example, they might say ”kitchen” for “chicken” and vice versa.

What are the Causes of Apraxia?

Apraxia is typically caused by dementia, stroke, brain tumors, or traumatic brain injuries.

How can Apraxia be Treated?

Just as an athlete needs to train specific muscles to respond to stimuli correctly, an ENT or a speech pathologist will work with the patient to retrain the muscles involved in their speech. This means regular exercises and repeated practice of mouth movements.

3. Dysarthria

Dysarthria is different from Apraxia, as, in Apraxia, your speech muscles are weak due to brain damage which causes speaking disabilities like imprecise or slurred speech.

What Causes Dysarthria?

As per the researches done by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the following diseases plays a significant role in the development and triggering of dysarthria:

  • Brain tumors
  • ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Cerebral palsy

How can dysarthria be treated?

Finding the proper treatment time depends on the severity of dysarthria upon diagnosis. Speech disorder therapists might slow down your speech to help you use your breath to speak relatively clearly. Moreover, they can also help you to train the muscles in your mouth, tongue, and lips to make them stronger.

4. Voice disorders involving the larynx (voice box)

There is a range of types of disorders that are caused due to the issue with the voice box. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, some of these voice disorders could be:

  • Hoarseness

It occurs mainly among teachers and speakers, basically, those who require to speak for more extended periods. However, most of the time, it appears to be a temporary condition. At the same time, chronic hoarseness can lead to other problems.

  • Polyps or nodules on the vocal cords

Their growth on vocal cords might make it difficult for them to vibrate, affecting your speech. They can be caused by several conditions, such as allergies and smoking. However, their growth can be removed surgically, and depending on the size of their growth, and they can also be treated through medicine.

  • Spasmodic dysphonia

This occurs when your vocal folds spasm or tighten upon speaking, and due to it, sometimes you might not be able to talk at all. It is mainly caused due to problems with the nervous system or some other brain disorder. Although there is no cure for this, your local ENT physician can inject Botox into your vocal folds to loosen them up. Moreover, you can also get speech therapy sessions, which can help a lot.

  • Vocal fold paralysis

It occurs when your vocal folds are unable to move, and it not only causes speech disorders but can also affect your breathing and swallowing. They sometimes require an opening in the neck to enable you to breathe.

5. Aphasia

It is most commonly observed after a stroke, and it is a language disorder that occurs due to damage caused on the left side of your brain. It makes it difficult for you to speak, read or even understand what is being spoken.

What are the Symptoms of Aphasia?

Some of the common symptoms may include:

  • Saying the wrong words more often. For instance, speaking ‘cat’ when you meant to say ‘dog.’
  • Switching word order, instead of saying “driveway,” saying “way drive.”
  • They are increasing the use of made-up words either independently or in a sentence with actual words.

 What are Treatments for Aphasia?

Doctors adopt several different approaches for its treatment. You will have with your speech therapist, as it depends on him, what approach they prefer. This may also include learning to communicate through gestures, pictures, or computers.

Treatment for Speech Disorders is Available  

Speech pathologists and specialist ENT doctors utilize the ”team approach’’ to treat speech disorders. Whether it involves intensive speech therapy or some surgical procedures done by certified ear, nose, and throat doctors, there are multiple treatment options to treat speech disorders. You can even ask for a customized treatment plan to treat speech impediments as well.

 

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