Term of Art: Speech Disorders

“speech disorders: Individuals express thoughts, feelings, and ideas out loud to one another through a series of complex movements that mold the basic tone created by the voice into specific sounds. Speech is produced by precisely coordinated muscle actions in the head, neck, chest, and abdomen; this gradual process requires years of practice to master in order to produce understandable speech.

By first grade, about 5 percent of children will develop a noticeable speech disorder, most of which will have no known cause. Most speech disorders in the preschool years occur in children who are developing normally in all other areas, although speech disorders also may occur in children who have developmental disabilities.

One of the most common categories of speech disorder is stuttering, a condition in which there is a disruption in the flow of speech. Stuttering is a condition that involves repetitions of speech sounds, hesitations before and during speaking, and the prolonged emphasis of speech sounds. More than 15 million individuals around the world have this problem, most of whom began stuttering at a very early age.

Children with specific speech sound disorders (also called articulation disorder or phonological disorder) have trouble producing the speech sounds of their language that would be expected for their age. The extent of these errors will affect how easy it is to understand their speech, in some cases making it impossible for others to understand what the child is doing.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

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