Child Speech Disorders
When an individual is difficult to understand they may have a speech disorder. Speech disorders can begin in preschool and continue on into school. Some delays in speech are known as articulation delays, and may be due to children learning to say certain sounds in an incorrect way. Some of these sound errors can be corrected without therapy, while others may need some type of intervention.
Please refer to speech sounds acquisition chart also found in the resource section. This chart can be used as a guideline for parents to see the average age estimates for consonant sound production.
Apraxia of Speech is a more complicated motor speech disorder. This condition can also be known as dyspraxia . This disorder effects the planning and coordination of speech movements, which can result in sound distortions, separation of sounds in between syllables, voicing errors (e.g. "pie" for "bye") and moving smoothly from one sound to another. In Apraxia there is not a weakness in muscle movements, but rather difficulty in planning the muscle movements. Children with Apraxia can also have delays associated with language development.
Therapy for Apraxia should ideally be more intense than with a typical articulation delay. Some children diagnosed with Apraxia may be in Speech Therapy for many years. The prognosis is usually good, and these children will eventually develop understandable speech.
Dysarthria is another motor speech disorder that is neurogenic (brain damage) in nature. It is characterized by a disturbance in the motor control centre in the brain. Speech is effected because of muscle weakness, speed, and range of motion. This type of speech disorder is typical in children with Cerebral Palsy or children who have suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury. Speech therapy is necessary and can be beneficial for children with Dysarthria.