Speech Disorder – Causes | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment

Speech disorders can be defined as a type of communication disorder. It is also known as speech impediments. This disorder affects the way a person creates sounds to form words and normal speech is disrupted. There are certain voice disorders which can be considered as speech disorders such as stammer, stutter, lisps etc. If anyone is not able to speak at all, then he/she is considered mute.

Some people having speech disorders know what they want to say but are unable to articulate their thoughts. Such situations may lead to low self-esteem as well as the development of depression.

Speech disorders can affect anyone, adults as well as children. Early treatment can help to correct these conditions.

Some Common Speech Disorders


It is a motor speech disorder. Apraxia is caused by damage to the parts of the brain related to speech and communication i.e due to stroke or progressive illness. Apraxia of Speech is a communication issue. It influences the engine programming framework for speech production. In this condition, speech generation is very difficult. The condition is, particularly with sequencing and sound production.However, there is a disturbance in the cerebrum which sends the flag to the muscle for the development. This is important to deliver the sound. The issues can lead to enunciation while additionally inflection and talking about pressure and rhythm errors.


It is a motor speech disorder which can affect the muscles of the mouth, face or respiratory system. The muscles become weak or have difficulty in moving. This speech issue is caused by muscle shortcoming, strokes, Parkinson’s disease, head or neck injuries, surgical accident, or cerebral palsy. It can make talking really difficult. People may experience difficulty in understanding the speech of the affected person. Speech-Language pathologists can help.

Speech-Sound Disorders

Children as well as adults, both can have the problem with speaking clearly. And the unclear speech might be difficult to understand.

Stuttering or Stammering

Stuttering influences the speech familiarity. It starts in childhood and, in some cases, it keeps on going all through life. This disorder is described by interruptions in the speech creation, additionally called “disfluencies.” Many individuals deliver brief disfluencies every once in a while. A few words are rehashed in stammering and others are gone before by “um” or “uh.” Disfluencies are not a big issue. But, it can delay communication if a person delivers them in excess. It approximately affects 1%speech12 of the adult population.

Articulation Disorder

An articulation disorder is a speech and sound issue. In this, a kid experiences problems while making certain sounds. Sounds might be overlooked or adjusted throughout the speech. A toddler may substitute sounds (such as “wabbit” instead of “rabbit”) or add irregular sounds to the words. While figuring out how to talk, kids will regularly show some articulation issues. However, they are relied upon to “come out of this disorder” by a particular age. For that, they need an articulation therapy.

Causes of Speech Disorder

Speech disorders affect the vocal cords, muscles, nerves, and many other structures within the throat of the affected individual.

Some of the causes include:

  • vocal cord damage due to vocal abuse or misuse
  • Hearing Loss
  • muscle weakness
  • polyps or nodules on the vocal cords
  • vocal cord paralysis
  • brain damage
  • respiratory weakness
  • drug abuse
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Neurological Disorder

People with certain medical or developmental conditions may also experience speech disorders. Some of the common conditions that may lead to speech disorders:

  • autism
  • strokes
  • laryngeal cancer
  • Huntington’s disease
  • dementia
  • oral cancer
  • Physical Impairment such as cleft lip and palate
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease

In some cases, Speech disorders may be hereditary which can develop over time.

Symptoms of Speech Disorder

The symptoms of the depend on the cause of the speech disorder. Some of the common symptoms are:

  • elongating words
  • distorting sounds when talking
  • repeating sounds, especially those who stutter
  • adding extra sounds and words
  • blinking several times while talking
  • making jerky movements i.e. talking, usually involving the head movement
  • visible frustration while communicating
  • taking frequent pauses while talking
  • hoarseness, or speaking with a raspy or gravelly voice


There are so many tests available for the diagnosis of speech disorders. Some of them are mentioned here.

Denver articulation screening exam

The Denver articulation screening exam (also known as DASE) is the most commonly used testing system for the speech disorder. This testing system is used to diagnose articulation disorders. The test evaluates the pronunciation clarity in children between the ages of 2 and 7. This is a five-minute test which uses various exercises to assess the child’s speech.

Early language milestones scale 2

This test was created by a neurodevelopmental pediatrician ” James Coplan”. It determines a child’s language development. It also identifies delayed speech or language disorders, if any.

Peabody picture vocabulary test (Revised)

The Peabody picture vocabulary test was administered in 1959. Since then it has been revised many times. This test measures a person’s vocabulary and speaking ability. The person will listen to words and choose pictures to describe those words. People with severe intellectual disabilities or blind won’t be able to take this assessment. 

Treatment for Speech Disorder


In most of the cases, mild speech disorders may not require any treatment. As some of the speech disorders simply go away. Others get improved with speech therapy but others require medical attention by a specialist in phoniatrics.

Treatment varies according to the type of disorder. A speech therapist will help you in muscle-strengthening exercises for the face as well as throat. You’ll learn to control your breathing while speaking. Muscle-strengthening exercises along with controlled breathing help to improve the way words sound. This helps to learn the ways to practice smoother, and fluent speech.

Nervousness, embarrassment, or depression may be experienced by people with speech disorders. Talk therapy will be helpful in these situations as it will enable the sufferer to cope up with the condition. It will also suggest the ways to improve the outlook of your condition. A therapist will be the best person to discuss the condition. Antidepressant medications may be helpful if the depression is severe.

There are some other treatments available which include correction of organic conditions as well as psychotherapy.

Potential Complications of Speech Disorders

Untreated speech disorders, sometimes become the reason for the person to experience a great deal of anxiety in their daily life. As time passes, this anxiety may trigger anxiety disorders or even a phobia of speaking in public as well as social interactions. Early intervention for anxiety can be helpful in preventing the development of anxiety disorders or any such phobias. Treatment options include talk therapy as well as anti-anxiety medications.

Language Disorder

It is often used synonymously to the Speech disorder. But both are distinct to each other.

Speech disorders are referred to problems witnessed while producing the sounds of speech or with the quality of voice. Whereas language disorder is the impairment of either understanding words or being able to use them. And it has nothing to do with speech production.

Social Effects

A person suffering from a speech disorder can have negative social effects. This condition is, especially among young kids. Those having speech disorder are easy targets for bullying. The bullying can result in low self-esteem.

Long-Term Outlook (Prognosis)

The outlook readily improves for people seeking early treatment. This helps to prevent a speech disorder from getting worse. The outlook for people with permanent disabilities depends upon the severity of their disability and cause of the disorder. Speech can be improved with the help of speech therapy. Early treatment will definitely give better results.

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