The most common speech disorders are Articulation Disorder, Apraxia of Speech, Stuttering, Language Disorders, and Receptive Language Disorder. Please find an explanation of each below.
Articulation Disorder (commonly 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.
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 the inability to retrieve the right words and formulate proper sentences. Children with Receptive Language Disorder have difficulties understanding 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 a 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
Please note that though 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 paediatrician to discuss treatment options.