There are many types of pediatric speech-language disorders. The following is a list of some of the most common pediatric disorders and that our speech-language pathologists (SLPs) assess and treat.
Articulation Disorders. Articulation refers to what you may think of when you hear ‘speech.’ If your child has difficulty producing sounds, they may need assistance with their articulation skills.
Common articulation difficulties are with the ‘s’ sound (may produce with tongue in between their teeth), ‘r’ (‘rabbit’ produced as ‘wabbit’), and ‘l’ (‘look’ produced as ‘yook’). However, there are a variety of other sounds that many children need help developing correctly.
Children continue to develop sounds throughout childhood and an SLP will tell you if your child’s articulation errors are typical and likely to improve over time or if they require speech therapy services.
Auditory Processing. Sometimes, children exhibit classic signs of hearing loss: they do not hear well or may only understand a portion of what is being said. They experience learning difficulties, particularly in environments with lots of background noise. When multiple people are talking, they lose focus and can’t follow the conversation.
Parents may suspect a hearing loss, but in many cases, the cause is a disorder known as an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). Most children with APD don’t actually have hearing loss. Studies have shown the majority are able to hear normally in quiet environments; the problem is in the way they process auditory information. A speech-language pathologist can address the various weaknesses manifest in the difficulty listening and or processing language.
Autism. The CDC defines autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as a developmental disability that may lead to children behaving, communicating, interacting, or learning in ways that are different from most people. This condition is usually identified before the age of three but can sometimes take many more years to properly diagnose.
Children who experience ASD may also struggle with various speech and language and social pragmatic skills, which will require the need for a speech-language pathologist.
Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). CAS impacts the entire sound system. This is a neurological motor planning disorder.
The speech errors are often inconsistent from one moment to the next.
Children with apraxia also often have “groping,” which refers to difficulty coordinating the movements of their mouths and tongues to produce a sound, word or sentence. Speech-language pathologists use a variety of evidence-based techniques to work with CAS to reduce frustration and improve the child’s ability to effectively communicate.
If you suspect your child has apraxia, an evaluation with a speech-language pathologist will determine how to best help your child.
Dyslexia. This is a reading disorder that may be phonological or language based. Children have difficulty with written words and often experience problems expressing ideas, learning vocabulary, understanding questions, and following written directions. They may mix up the order of letters in words or numbers in math equations.
Executive Function. Executive function refers to a series of cognitive skills that are involved with planning and organization. This includes skills related to time management, organization, paying attention and completing day-to-day tasks.
Children with learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD and other conditions can sometimes demonstrate weakness with executive function and therefore have poor time management and organization skills.
Fluency. Two of the most common fluency disorders include stuttering and cluttering. Stuttering in early childhood may be developmental and no cause for concern. Often children will use repetitions and pauses in their speech as their language is expanding and developing at a quick pace.
People who stutter require individualized treatment plans to achieve the best outcomes. Stuttering therapy often includes exploration of emotions and feelings surrounding fluency in addition to specific techniques and treatments.
Cluttering is a fluency disorder that may present similarly to stuttering with repetitions and ‘getting stuck’ when talking. There are, however, some differences in the manifestation and treatment of cluttering. Individuals who clutter also often have difficulty organizing their thoughts for writing and storytelling.
If the stuttering has occurred for more than six months, if you have a family history of stuttering or if your child is aware of and frustrated about their disfluencies a speech and language evaluation is recommended to determine the severity, impact on quality of life in a variety of circumstances, and the most appropriate treatment plan.
Hearing Impairment. Children who have difficulty hearing are likely to also experience other speech-language disorders. Early treatment is key to preventing later problems, so scheduling an appointment at the first sign of trouble is crucial to long-term success.
Hearing tests and evaluations are key in ruling out whether a child is experiencing any degree of hearing loss. Depending on the age of the child and the specific concerns, a speech-language pathologist in conjunction with an audiologist may also perform assessments, including play-based activities or more structured tests, to discern between hearing loss or other conditions.
Language Processing. Language processing affects how children understand or interpret the language they hear. A comprehensive language processing evaluation is required in order to determine the areas of strength and weakness and develop an appropriate plan of care.
Phonological Disorders. A phonological disorder affects speech sound perception and production. A disorder with phonological processes can make a child’s speech poorly intelligible and/or affect their language learning and production.
Social Communication. As children grow, they learn to understand verbal and non-verbal cues, conversational turn taking, and other social skills required to fit in with others. Some children have difficulty learning these skills without explicit instruction and practice.
For such children, individual or group therapy is appropriate to help them learn to understand non-verbal cues such as vocal inflection, humor, timing, body language, etc. Our social communication groups were developed to help children with similar treatment goals come together in a small group setting to develop and practice a variety of social skills and topics.
Swallowing/Feeding. Dysphagia or pediatric feeding disorders may be related to physical limitations or behavioral factors that result in a child eating a limited variety of foods.
Treatment for feeding and swallowing disorders depends on the underlying cause. Many of these disorders can be effectively treated by a speech-language pathologist.
Voice. The vocal folds, groups of muscle tissue in the larynx, are normally open to allow breathing. When you speak, they close, while air from the lungs makes them vibrate; this produces sound. The size and shape of the vocal folds and surrounding cavities (throat, mouth, and nose) help determine your voice’s pitch, volume, and tone; this is what makes it unique.
When illness or disease affects your voice, it can change the pitch, volume, and sound quality.
Symptoms of a voice disorder include a hoarse, raspy or weak voice; decreased range in pitch, volume, and projection; vocal fatigue; shortness of breath; coughing; sore throat; chronic throat clearing, and voice loss.
Call Speech & Hearing Associates at (800) 742-7551 for more information or to schedule an appointment.