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December 13, 2016
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Speech and Language Disorders

Understanding Speech and Language Disorders

Speech and language disorders are varied and can occur at any age. Regardless of the severity of speech and language disorders, a person’s ability to interact and communicate with others will be affected. Speech and language disorders can interfere with a person’s ability to understand, to express his or her thoughts, or to be understood. Their causes are varied. They may be present from birth, or they can occur in childhood or later in life due to accident or illness.

Understanding Speech Disorders

A speech disorder affects one’s ability to speak words so they are understandable. Many people with speech disorders have no problem understanding or reasoning. For example, a person with cerebral palsy may have a speech disorder but have no problem with his or her processing and understanding ideas.

Speech disorders may also involve disorders of the voice, including pitch, loudness, or quality. A common speech disorder is stuttering, which is marked by repetition and a struggle to get words out. Many speech disorders have no known cause.

Understanding Language Disorders

Persons with language disorders may struggle to understand spoken or written words. Language disorders may result from or accompany intellectual impairment, autism spectrum disorders, hearing loss, brain injury or brain tumors, stroke, and dementia. Language disorders may also exist in individuals with typical intellectual, sensory, or physical development.

Speech disorders and language disorders are not interchangeable. A person may have both a speech and a language disorder or have one without the other.

Persons with language and speech disorders may try to hide their disorders and may struggle reading aloud in public. Some individuals, especially children, may be unaware they have a language or speech disorder. Families or loved ones of the person with a speech or language disorder may seek therapy from a speech-language pathologist. Those with these disorders and their loved ones need to be patient while seeking therapy.


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