Alternate Names : Aphasia
Impairment means that there is a change in the way a certain body part works that is
different from usual. Speech impairment means it is difficult to use the body
parts and muscles that make the motions or sounds needed for speech.
Language impairment is different from speech impairment. It is caused by damage
to the brain that makes it difficult or even impossible to use or understand
What is the information for this topic?
Speech impairments vary widely in their cause, effect, and treatment.
How does this impairment occur?
Some babies are born with physical conditions, such as cleft
lip and cleft palate, that make it difficult or impossible to learn
to speak. Cleft lip is an incomplete joining of the upper lip. Cleft palate is
an abnormal passageway through the roof of the mouth into the airway of the
nose. Because these problems are present at birth, they are called congenital.
Following are some other causes of speech impairment:
congenital disorders, such as Down syndrome, which also causes
emotional or psychological problems, such as selective mutism
injuries to the brain, such as head injury
injury to the muscles needed for speech
medication side effects
or paralysis, which may occur in degenerative diseases such as
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or multiple sclerosis
Parkinson's disease, a degenerative nerve disorder
profound deafness, or other hearing impairments
surgical removal of the tongue or voice box, known as
cancer or tongue cancer
Are there ways to lessen a speech impairment?
Some congenital disorders, such as cleft palate or lip, can be
repaired with surgery. With other problems, a speech
therapist can help during rehabilitation supervised by a doctor.
People who have lost their speech because of a stroke can often regain some or all of their speaking ability
by working with a speech therapist.
Some children and adults can learn American Sign Language, or ASL. ASL is mostly
used by people who are deaf or severely hearing impaired, but many people can
benefit from learning it. People who have lost the ability to speak because of
surgery can sometimes use an electronic device that produces sounds imitating
the human voice. Known as augmentative communication, these devices include
computers, or special boards with pictures or words.
How do people with this impairment function?
People who are born with a speech impairment and learn ASL at an early age can
function well. They may stay within a circle of friends and family who are at
ease with them.
People who lose the ability to speak due to illness or injury may feel
frustrated and impatient when trying to communicate. Some people can regain
their speech or learn to speak well enough to get their meaning across.
It's important to treat a person with a speech impairment normally. People
should take their time and be patient when trying to communicate with such a
person. Difficulty with speech doesn't have anything to do with intelligence.
If understanding is difficult, it may be useful to ask the person to write a
word or phrase.