Communication Disorders

A friend or family member may have a communication disorder if they have difficulty:

    • Saying sounds the right way
    • Being understood when they talk
    • Following directions
    • Answering questions
    • Speaking smoothly and fluently
    • Paying attention or focusing
    • Recalling information
    • Organizing their thoughts
    • Using appropriate vocabulary
    • Recalling a word when speaking
    • Reading, spelling or writing
    • Acting socially appropriate (using eye contact, staying on topic, initiating and turn taking in conversations, using and understanding facial expressions and body language, etc)
    • Speaking without a chronically hoarse or breathy voice
    • shows signs of anger/frustration when not understood
    • is often asked to repeat himself

Speech Definitions

Click on any of the sections below for more information.

Accent Reduction
Accents reflect the unique characteristics and background of a person. Many people take great pride in their accents. However, some people may have difficulty communicating because of their accent. These difficulties include the following: • People not understanding you • Avoiding social interaction with those who may not understand you • Frustration from having to repeat yourself all the time • People focusing on your accent more than on what you are trying to say These types of communication problems may have negative effects on job performance, educational advancement, and everyday life activities. It may also negatively affect your self-esteem if you are having trouble communicating because of an accent. For all of these reasons, some people want to modify or change their accent.
Apraxia of Speech
Apraxia is a general term. It can cause problems in parts of the body, such as arms and legs. Apraxia of speech is a motor speech disorder. It is caused by damage to the parts of the brain related to speaking. Other terms include apraxia of speech, acquired apraxia of speech, verbal apraxia, and dyspraxia. People with apraxia of speech have trouble sequencing the sounds in syllables and words. The severity depends on the nature of the brain damage.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder. Children with CAS have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech. The child knows what he or she wants to say, but his/her brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words.

Articulation/Speech Sound Deficits
An articulation disorder involves problems making sounds. Sounds can be substituted, left off, added or changed. These errors may make it hard for people to understand you.

Young children often make speech errors. For instance, many young children sound like they are making a “w” sound for an “r” sound (e.g., “wabbit” for “rabbit”) or may leave sounds out of words, such as “nana” for “banana.” The child may have an articulation disorder if these errors continue past the expected age of correction

Assistive/Augmentative Communication
Augmentative Communication refers to multiple interventions for individuals with severe communication disorders in attempts to compensate for their impairment. Components of AAC systems include: symbols, aids (such as computers, electronic devices, or a communication book), strategies, and techniques.
Aural Rehabilitation
Educational procedure used with hearing impaired persons to improve the effectiveness of their overall communication ability.
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.
Cleft Palate and Lip
Oral-facial clefts are birth defects in which the tissues of the mouth or lip don’t form properly during fetal development. A child with oral clefting may have trouble speaking; the clefting can make the voice nasal and difficult to understand.
Fluency Disorders
An interruption in the flow of speaking which significantly interferes with communication.
Language Delays and Disorders
The term receptive language refers to a child’s ability to understand what he or she hears or reads. Expressive language refers to a child’s ability to formulate thoughts, retrieve needed words from memory and organize those words into sentences for speech or writing.
Oral Motor Therapy
Difficulties in using the oral mechanism (teeth, tongue, jaw, lips and cheeks) for functional speech or feeding, including chewing, blowing, or making specific sounds.
Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Disorders
Feeding disorders include problems gathering food and getting ready to suck, chew, or swallow it. For example, a child who cannot pick up food and get it to her mouth or cannot completely close her lips to keep food from falling out of her mouth may have a feeding disorder.