Glossary Of Speech and Language Disorders





Aphasia - a loss of language function following an injury to the brain in area associated with the comprehension and production of speech and language. Aphasia may be fluent or nonfluent.

Apraxia of Speech – a motor speech sound disorder that causes problems in initiating speech and sequencing sounds, syllables, and words consistently, as well as in failing to use appropriate syllable stress in speech.

Cognitive-Linguistic Disorders – a difficulty remembering, planning, solving problems, paying attention, and organizing thoughts. Causes include a learning disability, stroke, traumatic brain injury, or dementia.

Dysarthria – a motor speech disorder that results from insufficient muscle strength for speech production. It affects fluency, voice, and speech sounds. Dysarthrias may be caused by strokes, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Dysphagia – a chewing, swallowing, or feeding difficulty due to illness, surgery, stroke, or injury. In children, dysphagia can manifest itself as a persistent refusal to eat. Dysphagia is not a communication disorder, although it can “accompany” a speech and language disorder. Dysphagia is life-threatening and can lead to aspiration pneumonia from food and liquids entering the lungs.

Fluency Disorder (Stuttering) – a disorder that is marked by an interruption and repetitions in the flow or rhythm of speech. In most cases, stuttering often begins between the ages of 2 to 6 years old. Stuttering should not be confused with cluttering, which is characterized by excessive speech rate and monotone voice. Stuttering and cluttering can coexist. In other words, a person who has stuttering may be affected by cluttering at the same time, but be unaware of that.

Language Disorders – involve the use of correct words and word endings and the order of words in a sentence. Using speech and language without regard to appropriate social norms in communication with others is considered a pragmatic language disorder (examples may include not taking turns or not staying on topic). Accent or a specific dialect are not language disorders; however, a person learning another language may have a language disorder in her/his primary language.

Speech Sound Disorder (Articulation or Phonological) – an articulation or a phonological disorder that shows itself through difficulty forming and combining sounds when speaking.

Tongue Thrust – the improper forward positioning of the tongue at rest, as well as during swallowing and speech. Tongue thrust may or may not affect speech.

Voice Disorders – typically called aphonias and can be defined by poor vocal quality, inappropriate pitch, inappropriate loudness, or resonance problems. Those difficulties may be caused by vocal misuse or an organic disorder (such as cleft palate or the presence of neoplasm on the vocal folds). An otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor) can determine the cause of a voice disorder.

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