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What Is Dyslalia?

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  • Written By: Angela Farrer
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 29 August 2016
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Dyslalia is a type of speech impairment in which sufferers have noticeable difficulties correctly pronouncing words and clearly articulating their speech. Some people with this disorder have problems with speaking only a few certain sounds, while others have trouble with talking in general. This condition normally does not arise from neurological problems, and physicians trace it to specific speech organ defects in many cases. Some other dyslalia causes include hearing loss and certain learning disabilities. The disorder generally appears in young children when they first reach the average age of beginning to speak.

When a child first has significant difficulty with talking, a physician will usually first examine the overall structure of the tongue. Common dyslalia causes can be traced to improper formation of the ligament that attaches the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. When this ligament is too short, proper tongue movement can be more problematic than normal. While the exact cause of this ligament malformation is unknown, it can usually be corrected through relatively simple surgery. Most doctors recommend that this procedure be done as early as possible in young dyslalia patients to allow them to more easily develop clear speech habits following the surgery.

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Congenital deafness is another cause of dyslalia, and the associated problems with talking come from the inability to understand the correct speech of other people. The severity of the problem is normally closely tied to the degree of existing hearing loss. Some sufferers with partial deafness can hear sounds only in limited high or low frequencies; this condition sometimes causes certain sounds to seem indistinguishable to them. Many people with mild to moderate hearing-related dyslalia have trouble telling the differences between the "f," "s," or "th," sounds in various words.

Dyslalia can sometimes be a characteristic of a specific learning disability that affects speech articulation. This type of disability entails difficulty learning how to mentally process and verbally recreate spoken sounds. Another type of learning problem that can lead to dyslalia is known as a phonemic disorder in which a sufferer has difficulty distinguishing between different sounds and selecting the right one to use for a given word. Treatments for these kinds of speech-related learning disabilities usually include ongoing therapy sessions. The goal of this type of speech therapy is usually to help sufferers learn alternate ways to train their brains to recognize, process, and correctly articulate the appropriate parts of words.

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