Communication Disabilities

Having difficulty communicating can be debilitating.  A Speech-Language Pathologist can help. 

Below are various terms associated with communication disabilities and Speech-Language Pathology as well as short definitions and links to websites with more information on the areas.  Communication disabilities are typically broken down into four areas: 1.  Speech Sound Production (articulation, phonology, apraxia, dysarthria); 2. Voice; 3.  Fluency; and 4. Language (semantics, syntax and pragmatics).  The following are taken from the perspective of a school based Speech-Language Pathologist.

1.  Speech Sound Production:
Speech sound production is a term that refers to how people make certain speech sounds in conversation.  This is often referred to as articulation.  If a person has difficulties in their ability to produce speech sounds in conversation, they may have an articulation disability, a phonological disability, apraxia, or dysarthria.  Short definitions of these areas are listed below:
  • Articulation Disability:  A person is said to have an articulation disability when they continue to have difficulty producing a sound or a few sounds when 90% of people their age have aquired the sound correctly.  Typical articulation disabilities would be for /r/, vocalic /r/, /l/, TH, /s/, and /z/.  The person typically has trouble with only one or two sounds.
  • Phonological Disability/Disorder:  A person is said to have a phonological disability when they are missing whole groups of sounds that are typically aquired by most people their age.  Individuals with phonological disabilities are usually more difficult to understand than individuals with articulation disabilities.  They also typically progress quickly in speech therapy and typically aquire all speech sounds into their conversational speech as speech therapy progresses.  People with phonological disabilities typically have difficult distinguishing between various sounds such as s/t; k/t; or g/d.
  • Apraxia:  In children, this speech sound production disability may be referred to as "Childhood Apraxia of Speech" (CAS), verbal apraxia, developmental apraxia of speech, or verbal dyspraxia.  Typically this person has difficulty repeating what they hear.  They may have certain words that they say well, and others that are unintelligible.  People with apraxia have difficulty planning the motor movements needed for speech.
  • Dysarthria:  A person with dysarthria has difficulty forming speech due to muscle weakness.  Speech may sound slurred and sluggish.

2.  Fluency:

3.  Voice:

4.  Language:  "Getting ideas from my head to yours without brainsurgery."  This is a very complex area and is typically broken into the following three areas: 1. sematics; 2. syntax; and 3. pragmatics.  Individuals with language disabilities may or may not also have the following:  TBI; Aphasia (types...); Autism; PDDNOS; CAPD; ADHD;
  • Semantics (function)
  • Syntax (form)
  • Pragmatics (use)

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