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What are Speech Disorders in Children?

Speech disorders in children are conditions in which children have difficulty creating sounds to pronounce words properly like other children of the same age group. Children with speech disorders may find it difficult to communicate with others as it can be difficult to understand what they are trying to say.

Types of Speech Disorders in Children

The different types of speech disorders include:

  • Apraxia of Speech: In this condition, there is a distortion of the sounds of certain words or stress is placed on the wrong syllables while speaking.
  • Stuttering: In this condition, the child gets stuck on certain words or sounds and repeats them frequently during a speech.
  • Speech Sound Disorders: The condition is characterized by the substitution of one sound for another or the omission of certain sounds while speaking. 
  • Dysarthria: In this condition, there is slurred or mumbled speech which may be due to weakness of the muscles responsible for speech.

Causes of Speech Disorders in Children

Cause for speech disorders in children include:

  • Injury to the brain
  • Thinking or development of disability
  • Hearing trouble including partial or complete deafness, ear injuries, and infections
  • Physical disorders or deformities such as cleft lip
  • Disorders affecting the nerves involved in speech
  • Vocal cord damage
  • Muscle weakness
  • Respiratory weakness

Symptoms of Speech Disorders in Children

Signs and symptoms of speech disorders in children include:

  • Repeating sounds
  • Adding sounds or syllables to words
  • Having difficulty pronouncing words correctly
  • Visible frustration when trying to communicate
  • Taking frequent pauses when talking
  • Distorting sounds
  • Shuddering movements, mainly involving the head, during the speech

Diagnosis of Speech Disorders in Children

To determine whether your child has a speech disorder, the speech-language pathologist will observe and listen to your child speak. Certain tests to evaluate your child’s speech and language skills may be performed. A physical examination will be done to check if any problem in the mouth is affecting your child’s ability to speak.

Treatments of Speech Disorders in Children

The treatment method varies based on the severity of the disorder and its causes. 

Treatment options can include:

  • Speech therapy exercises: A personalized program of speech therapy exercises will be prescribed to help your child become familiar with the proper way of pronouncing various words and sounds.
  • Physical exercises: This can help in strengthening your child’s sound-producing muscles that help in speech.
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