Written by: Stacey Tygielski, M.S., CCC-SLP
What IS a speech disorder? According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA): A speech disorder is when a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or easily, or where normal speech is disrupted.
- Your child’s speech sounds are unclear and extremely inconsistent. They often pronounce their intended words differently every single time! They may have difficulty moving smoothly from one sound, syllable, or word to the next. Your child may have difficulty producing the correct vowel sound in words. Look out for groping movements of the jaw, lips, or tongue when speaking.
- Unfamiliar listeners do not understand what your child is trying to communicate. This can be extremely frustrating for both your child and their communication partner. Keep in mind, Kindergarten children should be 90-95% intelligible to unfamiliar listeners.
- Your child stutters. They repeat or prolong different sounds. Maybe they have blocks where they can’t get sound out. Other behaviors that can be associated with stuttering consist of physical tension or struggle. They might even demonstrate secondary behaviors such as eye blinks, facial grimacing, or extreme changes in loudness.
- Your child’s speech quality is different from their peers. Maybe they sound extremely hoarse, breathy, or nasally? Do they frequently yell or whisper? Do they have the ability to control their volume when speaking? A few questions to think about.
- Your child substitutes,
omitsor adds additional sounds in words.
- Your child has a hearing loss or hearing disorder. When a child cannot hear properly, they miss out on hearing sounds and words which impact speaking, reading, and success in school.
- Your child has had multiple ear infections. Chronic ear infections can cause fluid in the middle ear. When there is fluid in the middle ear, it can cause temporary hearing loss. A temporary ear infection can impact a person’s ability to effectively hear the subtle differences in sounds and words.
- Your child’s spelling is impacted by their speech errors.
- Your child has a structural problem such as a cleft lip or palate. Structural differences may impact your child’s ability to speak clearly and make sounds. Children with cleft lip or palate also may require assistance with feeding.
- Your child has a short frenulum (the fold beneath the tongue). A short frenulum can limit tongue movement for speech production.