What are Speech Impairments?

what are speech impairments

Speech Language Pathologists generally help people with disorders that fall into two big categories – speech impairments and language impairments. Speech impairments are any sort of disorder that negatively affects a person’s ability to talk. Language impairments have to do with the other ways that we communicate, such as reading and writing, and how well we understand the people around us. Together, speech and language impairments are considered a high-incidence disability with about 20% of all children who receive special education services receiving speech and language therapies. 

Today, I’d like to focus specifically on the different types of speech impairments among children. 

Type of Speech Impairments 

Speech impairments that affect children can be broken into three basic categories – articulation disorders, fluency disorders, and voice disorders.Articulation disorders are characterized by omissions, substitutions, and/or distortions in normal speaking patterns. These sorts of issues can be the result of physiological abnormalities, injuries, or developmental delays. Most children have issues with articulation as they begin to learn language. When these issues persist, however, an SLP can be a great help. 

Fluency disorders are characterized by disruptions in the normal rhythm and timing of speech. Stuttering is the most common fluency disorder.Voice disorders are characterized by a speaking voice that has an abnormal pitch, volume, or resonance. Voice disorders can be the result of trauma or injury to the larynx. If someone speaks in a nasally voice or always speaks in a whisper, that might signify a voice disorder. 

When It’s Time to Call an SLP… 

In many cases, speech disorders can be significantly reduced or even fully reversed with the help of a trained SLP. We all have different ways of communicating, and all of our differences should be celebrated. That said, if your child is having difficulty being understood or understanding others, that can have a serious impact upon their success in school, their ability to make friends, and their self-confidence.  

If you think your child might be struggling with a speech or language impairment, give our office a call to set up a free consultation with a Chicago speech language pathologist who has years of experience working with children.