Five Common Speech Disorders in Children

Speech Disorders

Five Common Speech Disorders in Children

You have determined that your child has more than just a speech delay, now what? How do you determine what kind of speech disorder your child has and more importantly, what do you do about it? We have listed below five common speech disorders in children. Of course, we always recommend a visit to your pediatrician if you feel your child has any of these symptoms, and an appointment with an SLP may be necessary to begin an effective speech therapy treatment plan.

5 Common Speech Disorders in Children:

Articulation Disorder: An articulation disorder is a speech sound disorder in which a child has difficulty making certain sounds correctly.  Sounds may be omitted or improperly altered during the course of speech. A child may substitute sounds (“wabbit” instead of “rabbit”) or add sounds improperly to words. Young children will typically display articulation issues as they learn to speak, but they are expected to “grow out of it” by a certain age.  If the errors persist past a standard developmental age, which varies based on the sound, then that child has an articulation disorder.

The most common articulation disorders are in the form of a “lisp” – when a child does not pronounce the S sound correctly – or when a child cannot pronounce the R sound correctly. He may say “wabbit” instead of “rabbit” or “buhd” or instead of “bird.”

Apraxia of Speech is a communication disorder affecting the motor programming system for speech production.  Speech production is difficult – specifically with sequencing and forming sounds. The person may know what he wants to say, but there is a disruption in the part of the brain that sends the signal to the muscle for the movement necessary to produce the sound.  That leads to problems with articulation as well as intonation and speaking stress and rhythm errors. Apraxia of Speech can be discovered in childhood (CAS), or might be acquired (AOS) resulting from a brain injury or illness in both children and adults.

Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) is an inherited genetic disorder that is the most common cause of inherited intellectual disabilities in boys as well as autism (about 30% of children with FXS will have autism). It also affects girls, though their symptoms tend to be milder. It is greatly under-recognized and second only to Down syndrome in causing intellectual impairment.

FXS occurs when there is a mutation of FMRI gene and is an inherited disorder.  If a child received a pre-mutated X chromosome from one of his parents (as a carrier), then he is at greater risk of developing FXS.  Diagnosing Fragile X Syndrome is not easy for parents and doctors at the beginning of a child’s life.  Few outward signs are noticeable within the first 9 months. These signs may include an elongated face and protruding eyes.

Intellectual disabilities, speech and language problems, and social anxiety occur most frequently in children with Fragile X. Speech symptoms include repetition of words and phrases, cluttered speech and difficulties with the pragmatics of speech. All of FXS’s symptoms can range from mild to very severe.

Stuttering occurs when speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions, prolonging of sounds and hesitation or pausing before speech. Stuttering can be developmental, meaning it begins during early speech acquisition, or acquired due to brain trauma. No one knows the exact causes of stuttering in a child.  It is considered to have a genetic basis, but the direct link has not yet been found. Children with relatives who stutter are 3 times as likely to develop stuttering. Stuttering is also more typical in children who have congenital disorders like cerebral palsy.

A child who stutters is typically not struggling with the actual production of the sounds—stress and a nervousness trigger many cases of stuttering. Stuttering is variable, meaning if the speaker does not feel anxious when speaking, the stuttering may not affect their speech.

Language disorders can be classified in three different ways: Expressive Language Disorder (ELD), Receptive Language Disorder (RLD) or Expressive-Receptive Language Disorder (ERLD).  Children with Expressive Language Disorder do not have problems producing sounds or words, but have an inability to retrieve the right words and formulate proper sentences. Children with Receptive Language Disorder have difficulties comprehending spoken and written language. Finally, children with Expressive-Receptive Language Disorder will exhibit both kinds of symptoms. Grammar is a hard concept for them to understand and they may not use of articles (a, the), prepositions (of, with) and plurals. An early symptom is delay in the early stages of language, so if your child takes longer to formulate words or starting to babble, it can be a sign of ELD.

Children with Receptive Language Disorder may act like they are ignoring you or just repeat words that you say; this is known as “echolalia.” Even when repeating the words you say, they may not understand.  An example of this is if you say, “Do you want to go to the park?” and they respond with the exact phrase and do not answer the question. They may not understand you or the fact that you asked them to do something.

Children with Expressive-Receptive Language Disorder can have a mix of these symptoms

These are some of the most common speech disorders in children. No child is the same and you know your child best. If you feel that your child has a speech disorder, contact your pediatrician to discuss treatment options.

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