Speech Disorders: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

This article is written by famous doctor Sabeena Jalal. Speech disorders are fairly easy to recognize by a layperson. The speech may be difficult to understand, articulation may be unclear, it may sound stuttered or fluency may be disrupted. Although most listeners tolerate speech disorders, individuals with speech problems typically do not like the fact that attention is drawn to their speech and may wish to obtain help from speech therapists.

Speech disorders refer to several conditions in which a person has difficulty communicating by mouth. Speech is one of the primary ways we communicate with those around us. It is an effective way to monitor normal growth and development as well as to identify potential problems.

Disfluencies are rhythm disorders that are usually characterized by the repetition of a sound, word or phrase. Stuttering is perhaps the most serious disfluency. Articulation deficiencies involve sounds made incorrectly or inappropriately. Voice disorders involve abnormalities in the quality, pitch and loudness of the sound.

speech disorder

Causes Of Speech Impairment

There are many potential causes of speech impairment. The most common cause is mental retardation. Other causes may include:

  • Attention Deficit disorder (ADD)
  • Autism
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Cleft palate
  • Disorders of the palate
  • Hearing impairment
  • Learning disability
  • Schizophrenia
  • Vocal cord injury

However, in many cases the cause is unknown. Child abuse may also be a cause in some cases.

Delayed speech development is one of the common symptoms observed in developmentally delayed children. It occurs in five to ten percent of all children. Boys are three to four times as likely to have speech disorders as girls.



  • Repetition of sounds, words or phrases after age 4
  • Frustration with attempts to communicate
  • Head jerking while talking
  • Eye blinking while talking
  • Embarrassment with speech

Articulation Deficiency

  • Unintelligible speech by age 3
  • Leaves out consonants at the beginning of word by age 3
  • Leaves out consonants at the end of words by age 4
  • Persistent problems with articulation after age 7
  • Leaves out sounds where they should occur
  • Distorts sounds
  • Substitutes an incorrect sound for a correct one

Voice Disorders

  • Pitch deviations
  • deviations in the loudness and quality of the voice
  • Stuttering is quiet common
  • Cluttering, a speech disorder that has similarities to stuttering
  • Dysprosody is the rarest neurological speech disorder. It is characterized by alterations in intensity, in the timing of utterance segments, and in rhythm, cadence and intonation of words.
  • Difficulty in producing specific speech sounds (most often certain consonant, such as “s” or “r”) may be considered a speech sound disorder, and subdivided into articulation disorder ( phonetic disorder)  and phonemic disorder.

Phonetic Disorder

It is characterized by difficulty in learning to physically produce sounds and is popularly referred to as “ speech impediment”.

Phonemic Disorder

It is characterized by difficulty in learning the sound distinctions of a language, so that one sound may be used in place of many. However, it is not uncommon for a single person to have a mixed speech sound disorder with both phonemic and phonetic components.


Many of these types of disorders can be treated by speech therapy, but others require medical attention by a doctor in phonetics. Other treatments include correction of organic conditions and psychotherapy.

Social Effects Of Speech Disorders

Suffering from a speech disorder can have a negative social effects, especially among young children. Those with a speech disorder can be targets of bullying that can result in decreased self-esteem. As well, having a speech disorder can cause some sufferers to be shy and have poor public speaking skills.

8 thoughts on “Speech Disorders: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment”

  1. Asalam u elikum my name is Ibad
    i m having a problem in my speech, actually when i talk with someone, sometimes i get stuck in some words usually the words starting with ‘A’ Letter. I would like to know that why it happens coz my speech waz normal at the age of 15. but after tht it waz started slowly and now my condition iz that i am unable to speek wid fluence. plz guide me.
    thank you.

  2. Hi, just wanted you to know I have saved your site to my Google bookmarks because of your fantastic blog layout (LOL). But honestly, I believe your site has one of the cleanest design I’ve came across. It honestly helps make reading your blog a lot easier.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top