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Speech Disorders and the Main Causes

Speech disorders refer to the number of conditions that can cause a person to have a voice problem or when it is impossible to utter speech sounds in a correct and fluent manner. There are various reasons why speech disorders occur, which can range from mental illnesses and brain injuries that affect speech development to genetic disorders like loss of hearing or abuse of alcohol or drugs.

It is not at all uncommon that the cause of some speech disorders remains unknown. In a great number of cases, it is possible to cure the disorder with the help of a speech therapist, after determining the type of the disorder, as well as the cause of it. In some cases, surgery might help, if it's a physical impairment, although some disorders might be a result of some mental trauma.

Types of Speech Disorders

The fact is that there are more than a few types of speech disorders, at least according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Some of them are:

Aphasia is a result of some damage to the communication center in the brain due to either a brain tumor or some head injury, or stroke, and it results in problems that involve talking, writing, and listening skills.

Apraxia results in an inability of the individuals in question to express themselves correctly and it is usually a result of some brain trauma. There is a difference between developmental and acquired apraxia, because the first type is present from the first day of life, while the second is a result of the injury.

Articulation disorder is characterized by the inability of the individual to pronounce certain sounds, especially ‘s’ and ‘r’. The cause of this disorder is related to the tongue and either weak muscles or decreased control over this organ. People with this problem usually distort the problematic sound, or produce another one instead.

Cluttering speech disorder does not have a known cause, but the person in question usually speaks very fast or repeats some parts too frequently in order to be more comprehensible.

Stigmatism or lisps is actually an inability to produce a particular speech sound, and there is interdental, lateral, and palatal stigmatism.

Dysprosody is a condition characterized by disrupted rhythm, intensity, and timing of speech, and it is common in people with Parkinson’s disease or those whose brain has been affected by a tumor or stroke.

Phonemic disorders are typical of those who cannot utter sounds like ‘c’ or ‘t’ correctly, so they utter an incorrect sound instead.

This study investigated the response to class-wide phonological awareness and oral language teaching for 40 children who entered school with speech and language difficulties. A stepped wedge research design was adopted to compare the immediate impact of the 10-week teacher-led instruction. The progress of the children with speech and language difficulties was monitored over the first school year and compared with 110 children with language difficulties alone and 95 children with typical development.
  • Children with speech and language needs showed a strong intervention response in phoneme awareness and vocabulary learning but needed more support to transfer skills to word decoding and spelling. Implementing the approach earlier in the school year resulted in stronger literacy performance at the year-end for all three groups. The importance of positive speech-language pathologist and teacher collaborations to support a systematic approach to evidence-based foundational literacy teaching is discussed.
  • THE CUMULATIVE benefits from successful early reading and writing attempts for beginner learners are well established. Ensuring all learners experience the longer term benefits from early literacy success is both a global priority and a global challenge. Many countries report persistent and wide variability in their children's reading abilities at around 10 years of age, with longitudinal data suggesting that children who struggle with reading may experience literacy challenges into adulthood.
  • One group of children whose early literacy development requires additional support and careful monitoring is children who enter school with speech and oral language difficulties . Analysis of literacy growth trajectories for these children highlights the need to provide proactive support to enhance their literacy outcomes.
  • This parallel trajectory of literacy growth for children with and without speech and language difficulty is concerning as it indicates children with such difficulties are not catching up to their peers, which could result in longer term educational inequities. There is an urgent need, therefore, to better understand teaching and intervention practices that will accelerate early literacy learning for children with both speech and language learning needs to ensure they benefit from the positive long-term health, social, and economic benefits that are associated with higher literacy and educational achievement.
  • There is limited detailed information relating to how children with both speech and language difficulties respond to quality classroom literacy instruction. Most intervention studies aimed at improving reading and/or spelling development for children with speech and language difficulties are at the small-group or individual level.
  • In a recent randomized controlled intervention study, the progress of 289 preschool children with developmental speech and/or language impairments was monitored in response to whole-class instruction over a school year. Findings indicated that a more systematic approach for teaching the necessary foundational learning skills for literacy success (referred to as TELL: Teaching Early Literacy and Language) that also included coaching and mentoring opportunities for classroom teachers resulted in significantly greater gains in the children's foundational literacy skills than business-as-usual literacy instruction.
  • Our current study extends previous research through detailing the response to evidence-based classroom literacy instruction for children in their first year of school who have speech and language difficulties. The participants were drawn from a wider study that investigated the feasibility of an integrated approach, referred to as the Better Start Literacy Approach, for children entering school with low levels of oral language (OL). The approach included the following: (a) professional learning and development as well as in-class coaching for teachers; (b) teacher-led phoneme awareness, vocabulary, and OL intervention over a 10-week period, supported by SLPs or other remedial specialist; and (c) workshops for children's parents/family members to enhance their children's language skills in areas aligned to the class intervention.
  • A paired t test showed children with lower OL + SD made significant growth (p
✓ Fact confirmed: Evidence-Based Class Literacy Instruction for Children With Speech and Language Difficulties Gillon, Gail; McNeill, Brigid; Denston, Amanda; Scott, Amy; Macfarlane, Angus; December 2020.

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