A voice disorder is characterized by the abnormal production and/or absence(s) of vocal quality, pitch, loudness, resonance and/or duration which is inappropriate for an individual's age and/or sex. We all lose our voices every now and then or become hoarse. However, if it persists, consultation with an otolaryngologist (Ear Nose Throat doctor) is advised followed by a consultation with a speech pathologist.
A fluency disorder is an interruption in the flow of speaking characterized by atypical rate, rhythm, and repetitions in sounds, syllables, words and phrases. This may be accompanied by excessive tension, struggle behavior and secondary mannerisms. Also known as stuttering, it is common in young children when they are beginning to expand their language. However, if it persists or if the parent is simply concerned, consultation with a speech pathologist is warranted.
Articulation Disorder including Phonological Disorder
Speech is “how” we say words. An articulation disorder involves an inability to make a particular sound(s) i.e., “S, R, L” etc. Articulation issues can range from mild to severe.
Phonology is the sound system of language. It tells us how sounds fit together in words. Children with a phonological disorder have not learned the rules for how sounds fit together to make words. A phonological disorder involves a pattern of sound errors i.e. substituting “T” for “K” or “D” for “G” across all speech contexts.
Symptoms of Articulation Disorders:
The speech musculature is intact and there are no weaknesses, incoordination or paralysis of the speech musculature. The error patterns are consistent. There may be a difference between their receptive and expressive language skills. Generally, the rate, rhythm, pitch, voice quality and loudness levels of their speech are normal.
Treatments for Articulation Disorders:
For children with speech sound issues, one must consider the age of the child to determine if it needs correction or if it is an age appropriate misarticulation. Obviously, the more sounds children have in error the more unintelligible they become. At that point, if they are not understood by others, therapeutic intervention should be initiated regardless of age.
Speech therapy for a phonological disorder will often target a group of sounds to be focused on simultaneously as opposed to an articulation disorder which will only work on one sound at a time.