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Causes of Speech Disorders or Speech Impairment & Its Symptoms, Treatment, Types, Classification, Diagnosis, Prevention

An Overview of Speech Disorder or Speech Impairment!

Speech Disorders or speech impairments are a type of communication disorder. It can harm the way a person speaks. Speech disorder or speech impairment can affect both children and adults and can often have a negative impact on their lives and ambitions. If you are suffering from a Speech Disorder then you might face difficulties in pronouncing words or may face difficulties in articulating what you feel. You might confuse speech disorder with a language disorder, but they both are very different from each other. While language disorder inhibits your power of communicating by not correctly forming words and sentences, speech disorders deal with the actual production of the word or the sentence.

What are the Causes of Speech Disorders or Speech Impairment?

What are the Causes of Speech Disorders or Speech Impairment?

There can be several reasons why a person might be suffering from speech disorder or speech impairment. This can affect several parts of one’s body like vocal cords, nerves, muscles, etc. It becomes important to trace the causes which include: Problems with Vocal Cords: Your vocal cord might be a reason why you may be suffering from it. Vocal cord damage or vocal cord paralysis can often lead to imperfect speech. Polyps or nodules on the vocal cord can also be a reason behind speech disorders.

Muscle Weakness or Respiratory Weakness: Weakness can also be an important factor when it comes to speech disorders. Muscle weakness or respiratory weakness can often lead to brain damage which, in turn, can lead to Speech Disorder or Speech Impairment.

Developmental Disorders: People who suffer from developmental disorders or other kinds of medical conditions can also suffer from speech disorders. Medical conditions like autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), oral cancer, strokes, dementia, Huntington’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease can spur speech disorders in individuals.

Genetics Factors: Some of the speech disorders can also be genetic. If you carry genes which can cause it and if it is a dominant gene then you might suffer from Speech Disorder or Speech Impairment.

What are the Symptoms of Speech Disorder or Speech Impairment?

Symptoms are the most effective way of determining if a person has a certain medical condition. The most common indication of speech disorder or speech impairment relates to problems in fluency of your speech.

Here are some symptoms of Speech Disorder or Speech Impairment:

Repeating Words: Repetition of words unnecessarily can be a symptom of speech disorder. Using extra words and sounds can be a symptom of Speech Disorder or Speech Impairment. There might also be tension in one’s voice or sound.

Excessive Jerking or Blinking: There are some social symptoms, which are associated with speech disorders. You might feel frustrated when you want to communicate with people. Jerking of one’s head or blinking too much are signs of speech disorder.

Problems with Articulation: You might face some problems in articulation of your thoughts. Certain sounds or syllables might get distorted when you try to communicate. It might become difficult for you to express your thoughts in an understandable manner to the ones around.

Pronunciation Problems: There are several phonological symptoms of Speech Disorder or Speech Impairment as well, which are associated with speech disorders. The first or the last sound of the words might be left out or changed completely. The patient might have a problem in pronouncing the same kind of sounds in other words.

Voice Quality: There also might be problems with your voice. Your voice can turn hoarse or rough and it may break. The pitch is also affected if you are suffering from Speech Disorder or Speech Impairment. You may run out of air during mid-sentence. There might be issues with the control that you exercise over your voice, not producing the desired effect. It might be too loud or too soft.

How are Speech Disorders or Speech Impairment Classified?

There are 3 ways in which Speech Disorders or Speech Impairments can be classified and which determine the severity and the type of a speech disorders:

  1. Sounds Which The Patient Is Able To Produce:

    • Phonemic. Patient can produce the sounds easily, constructively and meaningfully.
    • Phonetic. Patient can produce the sounds only upon being asked; and is not able to use speech meaningfully, consistently or constructively.
  2. Stimulate Sounds

    • Speech or sounds are easily stimulated.
    • Speech or sounds are stimulated only after some probing such as with a tongue depressor.
  3. Cannot Produce The Sound

    • Patient is not able to produce any sound voluntarily.
    • Muteness. there is no production of any sound or speech.

What are the Types of Speech Disorders or Speech Impairment?

Here is a glimpse at the several types of speech disorders:

Fluency Disorders: This type of Speech Disorder includes problems like stuttering, abnormal stoppages in between sentences, unwanted reactions, etc.

Articulation Disorders: This type of Speech Disorders may include difficulties in producing sound in syllables or uttering the words correctly.

Voice Disorders or Resonance: This type of Speech Disorder or Speech Impairment deals with problems related to the pitch, quality or volume of one’s voice. This particular kind of Speech Impairment is known to inflict pain on the individual.

Apraxia is one type of speech disorder. It is a result of a stroke or a heart disease. It usually involves rearranging the words incorrectly and producing inconsistent sounds. In this kind of disorder, you can utter common phrases without much effort but there might be a problem when it comes to the production of words.

Dysarthria is another common speech disorder, which affects a lot of people. It is a motor speech disorder where the muscles of your mouth, the respiratory system get weak and stop moving. Severe injuries, Parkinson’s disease, strokes can often cause this type of speech disorder.

Stuttering is found in many patients. It affects about 1% of the population.

Dysprosody is a neurological speech disorder. Neurological pathologies are often one of the main reasons why dysprosody is seen in many people. Brain vascular accidents, brain tumours are some of the causes of this type of speech disorder. This speech disorder is characterized by many features. There is a change in frequency, duration, and intensity of the patient’s speech.

How Can Speech Disorders or Speech Impairments Be Diagnosed?

There are several ways for diagnosing if an individual suffers from speech disorders or speech impairments and these are:

Early Language Milestone Scale 2 Test: This test helps to test a child’s language development. Delayed speech and/or disorders related to language can also be identified using this test.

Denver Articulation Screening Exam: This is one of the most preferred tests, which helps to evaluate the clarity of your pronunciation between the age of two and seven. It doesn’t take much time.

Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised: This is used to test a person’s vocabulary. It can also help test the ability of a person to speak. In this test, the patient has to listen to a list of words and choose pictures with which they associate these words with. This test has been revised several times. People who are blind can’t take this test.

What are the Complications Related to Speech Disorders or Speech Impairments?

Speech Disorders or Speech Impairments might not seem like a big deal to some, but it can cause severe inconveniences and embarrassment to the patient. If a person gets affected by Speech Disorder or Speech Impairment then the individual might be subjected to lot of teasing and difficulties.

Difficulty in Communication: It may lead to several complications when someone has to communicate with others. People might not be able to understand what the person is trying to convey and some may not even have the patience to take extra effort to understand their problem.

Psychological Problems: A person who is suffering from Speech Disorder or Speech Impairment can also suffer from anxiety. The patient becomes prone to depression over long periods of time and loses self-esteem due to Speech Disorder or Speech Impairment.

Problems on the Professional Front: Having a speech disorder can decrease the chances of getting a job. If you are not being able to communicate with your boss or your co-workers, professional chances decline for the individual with Speech Disorder or Speech Impairment.

Affects Social Life: It can also affect your social life as well as your personal life. You might not be able to be a part of any social group due to the constant jeers and jokes which further lowers your self-esteem.

How Can Speech Disorders or Speech Impairments Be Treated?

Mild speech disorders or speech impairments might not need any treatment. Some can be cured with persistent exercises or adopting habits that help an individual to pronounce better or articulate better. Severe speech disorders, however, need treatment. The treatment usually depends on the type of the speech disorder. To be aware of the type of speech disorder one suffers from, one must know the type, cause and consequences the speech disorders or speech impairment might produce. Let us have a quick look at the treatment procedures that can help with Speech Disorder or Speech Impairment:

Speech Therapy & Language Therapy: You can go for speech therapy where you will be guided about the different exercises. These will help you to strengthen the muscles in your face and throat. Strengthening your face and throat muscles will help you to exercise more control over your speech. You’ll be mentored to control your breathing while you’re talking. This will help you to improve the sound and pace at which you utter words. With long term dedication, you shall learn to speak fluently without interruptions. Dyslexia and other learning disabilities can prevent a person to speak clearly. Children who go through these kinds of disabilities generally overcome them through speech therapy. Talk therapy is provided to the people who get embarrassed or feel quite nervous while they’re talking. It could be as a result depression as well. Therapists help you to recognize your problem and communicating ways by which you can increase your self-esteem and do away with nervousness which comes with Speech Disorder or Speech Impairment. Simple exercises help in these cases to do away with speech irregularities.

Good Posture for Treating Speech Disorders: Your diaphragm should support your speech. This can be done with proper sitting and standing postures. You must also adopt a posture that helps you to relax your larynx. Relaxing your shoulders can also help you to relax your larynx resulting in better and clear speech. Maintaining a good posture can also help you with your speech. If your back is bent and the shoulders are hunched, your diaphragm is not pressurized properly. You need to make sure that in the posture you adopt, the stomach is in, the chest is always out, the feet must be steady and the back must be always straight.

Medications for Treating Speech Disorders: If the cause of your disabilities stems from enlarged adenoids, vocal polyps, tumours or other physical factors, you might need proper medication. In some cases, tranquilizers and antidepressants are also prescribed for the individual. In case of severe depression, antidepressants are found to be very helpful.

Practicing Pronunciation of Words: You should allow some time of your day to practice the proper pronunciation of the words and gradually pace your speech. Mark the words and sentences that are difficult to read and keep on practicing them. Practicing before the mirror help you to control your speech delivery, pace and exercise with more fluency.

Perseverance: Recitation of small stories or speeches help to get over your speech disorders as well. Provided, you read the sentences loudly and slowly and make sure you can concentrate on the sounds and the movement of the muscles related to the words. The key to such methods is patience and perseverance.

Can Speech Disorders or Speech Impairments be Prevented?

You can sometimes prevent speech disorders or speech impairments if they are recognized at an early age and dealt with properly. Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some tips which you can follow in order to prevent Speech Disorder or Speech Impairment.

Seek Help: When a child learns to speak for the first time, he or she might not be fluent and can utter words with a lot of problems. It is advisable to give your child time and take the help of a speech therapist. Certain speech habits can be developed accordingly in childhood.

Be Supportive: Try to avoid negative comments when your child is stuttering. You should always try to encourage them and be supportive. You are your child’s role model and they will follow your footsteps. If you are too harsh on your child then he or she might have low level of self-confidence. This can often lead to speech disorders or aggravation of speech impairment, which will not only affect his or her social life, but also will create a lot of trouble at their workplace.


Speech disorder or speech impairment is a common problem, which is faced by a lot of people. You don’t need to be ashamed because of it anymore. There are several treatments which are available and can help you to solve your problem. Speech disorder or speech impairment can be caused due to hereditary reasons. Modern science and technology provide enough options to get rid of any speech irregularities or Speech Disorder or Speech Impairment. Speech therapy lessons and simple exercises can go a long way in doing away with your speech disorder. The first step must lie in the recognition of your disorder and the reason it stems from. A proper assessment shall allow you to avail yourself proper treatment methods that relieve your speech disorder.


  1. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2023). Speech Sound Disorders. https://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/Speech-Sound-Disorders/
  2. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. (2023). Speech and Language Disorders. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/speech-and-language
  3. Mayo Clinic. (2023). Speech Disorders. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/speech-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20350472

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 2, 2023

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