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Types of Speech Disorders in Children

Types of Speech Disorders in Children

A speech disorder occurs when kids develop problems in creating sounds necessary to communicate verbally. The thing is, there are several types of speech disorders. Learn more about them here.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech

First in our types of speech disorders is childhood apraxia of speech (CAS).

When a child has CAS, they have difficulty moving the muscles responsible for speech (jaw, lips, tongue, etc.). And because they cannot position or move their muscles properly, they cannot or find it difficult to produce accurate sounds spoken in normal rhythm or speed.

Parents may start noticing the signs of CAS between 18 months and 2 years. They include:

  • Delayed first words
  • A limited number of spoken words
  • The ability to speak only a few vowels or consonant sounds
  • Inconsistent errors on consonants and vowels in repeated productions of syllables or words (for example, a child says the same word differently each time they try to produce it)
  • Inappropriate intonation and stress in word/phrase production

Speech Sound Disorder

Another of the types of speech disorders in children is speech sound disorder.

Experts say by the age of 4 to 8, most children have learned to master all the sounds they need to pronounce words correctly. Sure, they might make mistakes while learning, but they will eventually get the pronunciation right with practice.

When a child has a speech sound disorder, however, they might have difficulty in pronouncing certain sounds, like “sh” or “th.” We call this an articulation disorder.

A speech sound disorder may also mean they commit a pattern of sound mistakes, such as not being able to pronounce one letter. Experts specifically refer to this as a phonological process disorder.

For context, consider the “th” sound in the word “thank you.”

Experts say most 3 to 4-year-olds will be able to pronounce it correctly. While learning, they might replace the “th” sound with “f” sound. But if the problem persists, the child may have a speech sound disorder.

Dysarthria

Next on our types of speech disorders is dysarthria, a condition arising from the weakness of speech muscles due to brain damage.

Sometimes, the “weakness” translates to a lack of coordination and paralysis of the lips, tongue, palate, larynx, and jaw. Due to this, dysarthria may affect not only the articulation and rhythm of speech but also breathing.

Some of the symptoms of dysarthria include:

  • Difficulty controlling speech volume
  • Slurred speech
  • Slowed speech
  • Difficulty in articulating long words
  • Nasal, breathy, or hoarse voice quality
  • Speaking with too much effort due to lack of breath control

Disfluency

Fluency is the natural “flow” of speech. If a child develops problems in moving their speech forward, they might have a fluency disorder or disfluency.

The most common type of disfluency is stuttering. Kids who stutter often have increased blocks, repetitions, prolongations, or hesitation in the rhythm of speech.

Of course, kids may stutter if they feel unsure or nervous, but disfluency-related stuttering is different. It may come to a point where the child refuses to talk to people because of their condition.

Voice Disorders

Last in our types of speech disorders is voice disorder.

A voice disorder means the child finds it difficult to speak because of an issue with the way air moves up from the lungs to the vocal folds. Examples of these issues include:

  • A voice that breaks in or out
  • Raspiness or hoarseness of voice
  • Sudden change in pitch
  • A voice that’s too loud or soft
  • Running out of air mid-sentence
  • Hypernasality (too much air going out of the nose)
  • Hypnasality (too little air going out of the nose)

Key Takeaways

The types of speech disorders in kids include childhood apraxia of speech, speech sound disorder, disfluency, dysarthria, and voice disorders.

If you notice an issue with your child’s speech, or if they don’t seem to develop as well as their peers, don’t hesitate to get in touch with their pediatrician. The doctor will perform tests to determine the root of the problem. If needed, they might refer your child to a specialist like a speech-language pathologist.

Learn more about Child Health here.


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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Child Speech and Language, https://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/childsandl/, Accessed September 28, 2021

Childhood apraxia of speech, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/childhood-apraxia-of-speech/symptoms-causes/syc-20352045, Accessed September 28, 2021

Speech Sound Disorders in Children, https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=speech-sound-disorders-in-children-160-236, Accessed September 28, 2021

Speech Sounds Development Chart, https://childdevelopment.com.au/resources/child-development-charts/speech-sounds-developmental-chart/, Accessed September 28, 2021

Dysarthria, https://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Dysarthria/, Accessed September 28, 2021

Speech Disorders, https://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/s/speech-disorder, Accessed September 28, 2021

Speech disorders – children, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001430.htm, Accessed September 28, 2021

Childhood Apraxia of Speech Causes, Symptoms and Treatment, https://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/childhood-apraxia-speech, Accessed April 21, 2022

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Apr 21
Medically reviewed by Janie-Vi Villamor Ismael-Gorospe, MD