Speech disorders can affect people of all ages.
Some types of speech disorder include stuttering, apraxia, and dysarthria.
Stuttering refers to a speech disorder that interrupts the flow of speech. People who stutter can experience the following types of disruption
- Repetitions occur when people involuntarily repeat sounds, vowels, or words.
- Blocks happen when people know what they want to say but have difficulty making the necessary speech sounds. Blocks may cause someone to feel as though their words are stuck.
- Prolongations refer to the stretching or drawing out of particular sounds or words.
The symptoms of stuttering can vary depending on the situation. Stress, excitement, or frustration can cause stuttering to become more severe. Some people may also find that certain words or sounds can make a stutter more pronounced.
Stuttering can cause both behavioral and physical symptoms that occur at the same time. These can include:
- Tension in the face and shoulders
- Rapid blinking
- Lip tremors
- Clenched fists
- Sudden head movements
There are two main types of stuttering:
- Developmental stuttering -Which affects young children who are still learning speech and language skills. Genetic factors significantly increase a person’s likelihood of developing this type of stutter.
- Neurogenic stuttering -Which occurs when damage to the brain prevents proper coordination between the different regions of the brain that play a role in speech.
The brain controls every single action that people make, including speaking. Most of the brain’s involvement in speech is unconscious and automatic.
When someone decides to speak, the brain sends signals to the different structures of the body that work together to produce speech. The brain instructs these structures how and when to move to form the appropriate sounds.
For example, these speech signals open or close the vocal cords, move the tongue and shape the lips, and control the movement of air through the throat and mouth.
Apraxia is a general term referring to brain damage that impairs a person’s motor skills, and it can affect any part of the body. Apraxia of speech, or verbal apraxia, refers specifically to the impairment of motor skills that affect an individual’s ability to form the sounds of speech correctly, even when they know which words they want to say.
Dysarthria occurs when damage to the brain causes muscle weakness in a person’s face, lips, tongue, throat, or chest. Muscle weakness in these parts of the body can make speaking very difficult.
People who have dysarthria may experience the following symptoms:
- slurred speech
- speaking too slowly or too quickly
- soft or quiet speech
- difficulty moving the mouth or tongue
SYMPTOMS OF SPEECH DISORDER