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Speech disorders or speech impairments are a type of communication disorder where 'normal' speech is disrupted. This can mean stuttering, lisps, etc. Someone who is unable to speak due to a speech disorder is considered mute.
Classifying speech into normal and disordered is more problematic than it first seems. By a strict classification, only 5% to 10% of the population has a completely normal manner of speaking (with respect to all parameters) and healthy voice; all others suffer from one disorder or another.
There are three different levels of classification when determining the magnitude and type of a speech disorder and the proper treatment or therapy:
In most cases the cause is unknown. However, there are various known causes of speech impairments, such as hearing loss, neurological disorders, brain injury, an increase in mental strain, constant bullying, intellectual disability, substance use disorder, physical impairments such as cleft lip and palate, and vocal abuse or misuse.
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Many of these types of disorders can be treated by speech therapy, but others require medical attention by a doctor in phoniatrics. Other treatments include correction of organic conditions and psychotherapy.
In the United States, school-age children with a speech disorder are often placed in special education programs. Children who struggle to learn to talk often experience persistent communication difficulties in addition to academic struggles. More than 700,000 of the students served in the public schools' special education programs in the 2000-2001 school year were categorized as having a speech or language impairment. This estimate does not include children who have speech and language impairments secondary to other conditions such as deafness". Many school districts provide the students with speech therapy during school hours, although extended day and summer services may be appropriate under certain circumstances.
Patients will be treated in teams, depending on the type of disorder they have. A team can include SLPs, specialists, family doctors, teachers, and family members.
Suffering from a speech disorder can have negative social effects, especially among young children. Those with a speech disorder can be targets of bullying because of their disorder. The bullying can result in decreased self-esteem.
Language disorders are usually considered distinct from speech disorders, even though they are often used synonymously.
Speech disorders refer to problems in producing the sounds of speech or with the quality of voice, where language disorders are usually an impairment of either understanding words or being able to use words and do not have to do with speech production.