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Communication/Speech/Language Disorders


Speech and language disorders refer to problems in communication and related areas such as oral motor function. These delays and disorders range from simple sound substitutions to the inability to understand or use language or use the oral-motor mechanism for functional speech and feeding. Some causes of speech and language disorders include hearing loss, neurological disorders, brain injury, intellectual disabilities, drug abuse, physical impairments such as cleft lip or palate and vocal abuse or misuse.

More than one million of the students served in the public schools' special education programs in the 1998-99 school year were categorized as having a speech or language impairment. This estimate does not include children who have speech/language problems secondary to other conditions, such as deafness. Language disorders may be related to other disabilities such as intellectual disabilities, autism or cerebral palsy. It is estimated that communication disorders affect one of every 10 people in the United States.

A child's communication is considered delayed when the child is noticeably behind his or her peers in the acquisition of speech and/or language skills. Speech disorders refer to difficulties producing speech sounds or problems with voice quality. Speech disorders may be problems with the way sounds are formed, called articulation or phonological disorders, or they may be difficulties with the pitch, volume or quality of the voice. There may be a combination of several problems. People with speech disorders have trouble using some speech sounds, which can also be a symptom of a delay.

Examples, Subsets and Synonyms for Communication Disorders:

  • Language Disorders (developmental language disorders)
    • Expressive Language Disorders
    • Receptive-Expressive Language Disorders
  • Phonologic Disorders (speech disorders)
  • Stuttering
  • Dysarthria

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