What are Some Common Speech Disorders?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
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  • Last Modified Date: 04 February 2019
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Speech disorders can be broken down into three subcategories: impediments resulting from carelessness when learning to talk, disorders relating to mental problems, and impediments due to physical defects, such as cleft palate. Whatever the base cause of the impediment, the same problems will often occur, with the sufferer having difficulty communicating and releasing words. Some have a certain characteristic to the way they talk, while others may sound strange and disjointed, with speech that's characterized by sudden stops or starts. Common disorders include stuttering, stammering, and lisping.

Stuttering is one of the most common speech disorders, and it is characterized by a repetition of speech. It appears rapidly in some and slowly in others. People who suffer from stuttering may repeat only the first part of the word or may elongate their words.

The person who stutters will be aware that she is doing it, and it can be a source of constant frustration whether it results from either mental or physical causes. Speech therapists often use relaxation techniques, including breathing exercises, that may alleviate the problem. Many children who stutter often grow out of it, although the problem may reappear in times of stress in later life.


Stammering is another common speech disorder in which the sufferer may be unable to express sounds, and he may have difficulty in beginning words or sentences. The problem can be spasmodic, which means that it is related to the facial muscles. Stammering is often combined with stuttering. Sometimes, the sufferer may not be able to express sounds, and at others, he may repeat words or syllables continually.

Another common speech problem is lisping, which usually begins in childhood and can be broken down into negligent, organic, and neurotic types. Negligent lisping occurs when parents do not teach their children to speak properly, either because they do not correct the child’s speech or the child does not have role models to observe when learning to talk. Organic lisping comes about mainly due to a physical defect, such as a cleft palate or other deformities. Neurotic lisping is often a sign of mental disability, and it can be combined with stuttering or stammering.

Many speech disorders disappear over time. Speech therapists can be of great help to children and adults who suffer from speech problems, and they are often able to help the sufferer to recognize situations that may trigger the disorders. Professional speech therapists are trained to help with a number of different disorders and are certified by a board of examiners.


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Post 21

I grew up with a speech impediment due to palate malformation. My brother worked with me for years, following the homework provided by my speech therapist, to save me from the ridicule I was suffering at school. Imagine my horror, then, when his kid mispronounces his Rs (no mouth malformation) but the mom won't allow any speech correction because it's "cute."

After years of people making fun of him, the boy finally fixes it on his own - no thanks to Mom - but now he has his own son and Mom/Grandma once again encourage and defend the cuteness of mispronouncing words. She insists on going by his term for her: Jon-gee. Horrifying! Disgusting! This article is absolutely right in that sometimes the blame for poor speech lies with those parents who think baby talk is cute and refuse to do their part in correcting it.

Post 19

I have a speech impediment and I agree with post 14 and think it should be re-written, even though I can understand where the writer is coming from. It doesn't need to be this harsh.

Also after reading post 18, I feel very angry- this might have been the case for your friend but are you basing this off of what they can remember? Have you asked the mother!

My mother, father, etc., do not have speech impediments and I still developed one. Luckily, they and others picked up on it very early, but occasionally you can still pick-up on it. Laying blame on a single person is very wrong!

Post 18

@anon158362: I don't see anything wrong with that statement. It's not as if the author of this article is suggesting that all speech impediments/disorders are a result of carelessness when learning to talk, which would be execrable and utterly erroneous; in those circumstances I would wholly understand your want for that to be restated. However, the person is merely informing the readers that some of these disorders can stem from that initial carelessness, which is very true.

I have personally witnessed the authenticity of this statement, as I know someone who speaks with a speech disorder of sorts. They speak very, very loudly, and their voice has a strange quality of sound, slightly off. They are somewhat inarticulate, and to

be frank, their grammar and vocabulary is atrocious. All of these components of the affected speech are very apparent, noticeable and prevalent in their speech. And as their speech was affected, so was their reading comprehension, as at the time of their fourth or fifth year of school, being in third or fourth grade and of perhaps 10 years of age, they were reading at a kindergarten level. This was really due to the mother's lack of efficiency and thoroughness in making sure that her child was a skilled reader and speaker.

She did not read to him at an early age, and because she had a similar speech defect and was careless in making certain he spoke in the customary way, his speech defect, or whatever you want to call it, was due to carelessness at a key time after all. But there is nothing physically wrong with the child that would warrant these results. Their mental and cognitive function seems to be unaffected for the most part, as they are quite bright and not at all slow or retarded in the sense of impeded growth, and this condition has always been with them, so stress or strife could not be an agent of the affected speech.

Presently, the person is taking speech therapy, and the condition and quality of speech has been observably improved. And so, I would conclude from the situation that the whole thing did, in fact, begin from carelessness and could have been avoided if those who surrounded the person and taught them how to speak in the first place, those such as the person's mother, possessed more vigilance when addressing such matters, especially when they are of such importance.

I will sum up my response to your comment, as I apologize profusely for its extensiveness (although I believe the length was necessary to provide evidence and reasons enough to –hopefully – change your thinking). The gist of what I've been trying to say is this: I do not see anything wrong with that phrase, as it is a true statement(as I have observed in real-life situations). And as it does not appear to harbor or bear any ill will towards those affected with speech disorders, I do not understand how it could be taken as offensive, "incredibly offensive" notwithstanding.

All I ask is that you read my comment, reread the phrase that you commented on and found so offensive, and reconsider your sentiments towards it, because I can find nothing wrong with what they have said. But then again, maybe that's just me.

Post 15

Readers may be interested to watch my 16 minute documentary about children with speech disorders. It was produced in the 1980s, but the issues remain the same – and much more needs to be done. “Speaking Out – children with speech disorders”, produced for the charity AFASIC. It is available on YouTube.

Post 14

I adamantly object to your use of the phrase, "speech impediments resulting from carelessness when learning to talk". Update the sources of your research before posting such pre-Victorian pejorative pap. It's an incredibly offensive assertion and should be re-written.

Post 13

I'm not sure what speech order I suffer from however I have had it since birth.

I speak with an accent. It's not a strong accent but people often pin it down as a British accent, however I have no close relatives who speak with the same accent, no friends with a similar accent nor have I ever been out of Australia.

At times I stutter and other times I just can't articulate certain sounds like s. *I lisp sometimes* however most the time I cannot pronounce either R or W separately. I was at speech therapy until I was about 6 years old and had next to no improvement in my speech. Furthermore I have seen doctors as to

whether I have a cleft palate or am tongue tied however I was either told they were unsure or they could find no solid evidence. I am currently 17 and I'm about to go back for more checks for the first time in nearly 10 years. I hope to come back with positive results.
Post 12

I have a speech disorder. I stutter. I've been stuttering since I was 12 and now I am 21. So I been a stutterer for nine years so far. And when some people hear me talk, they say I stutter pretty badly.

Post 10

I don't know what I have, but I always seem to not be able to say words or sentences while talking and need to take a few breaths before I can say what is needed. Also whenever I am called upon to speak without prior planning of what I want to say, I say 'um' repeatedly over and over again. It gets very frustrating and I am only 12.

Post 8

My husband and daughter both speak like they always have a cold. My child always sounds like she's calling me "Bobby" instead of "Mommy." Is there a name for this kind of speech issue? Is there anything they can do or have done to correct it?

Post 7

Bhutan- A child can receive speech therapy for this condition in a public school or with in a private speech therapist.

Usually a private speech therapist charges anywhere from $40-$75 per half hour. While the private speech therapist is more expensive, there is usually no wait to receive services as there is in the public school system.

Waiting lists of six months or more are not uncommon. For a speech communication disorder of this degree, early intervention is the key to success.

Post 6

Comfyshoes- The speech disorder apraxia is really challenging to treat. With this disorder, a child understands the speech around him or her, but has severe difficulty expressing his or her thoughts verbally in an audible fashion.

This is more profound than a speech delay and needs therapeutic intervention immediately. The sooner a child with apraxia receives treatment the better they will be able to resolve their condition.

Post 5

Sunshine31-I know that many children’s speech sound disorders involve the final L and R. For example, many children say, “Baw” when the word is ball.

I agree that the proper formation of the tongue is necessary to master the sound. For the final L, the child needs to leave a tip of their tongue slightly behind the top layer of teeth.

Children with speech articulation disorders usually benefit from practicing their speech in front of a mirror and repeating the problematic sound over and over again for at least 10 minutes per day.

Post 4

Icecream17- Children that have speech disorders in articulation will pronounce the S with a TH sound instead.

The S will sounds like the TH as in thought. This is due to the improper position of the tongue during speech. In order to properly articulate the letter S, a child needs to make sure that their teeth are clamped together when they make the sound.

This is the opposite formation of the TH sound which requires the tongue to protrude outward. That's how the articulation problem occurs.

Children need to learn the proper placement of the tongue by repeating words that begin with the letter S. This will eliminate the lisp and create clearer speech. Usually children have this sound mastered by the age of nine which is considered normal speech development.

Post 3

Anon2109- I don’t know if the person was suffering from an expressive speech disorder.

It could be that this is the way she trains herself to slowdown her speech a bit so that she does not start to stutter.

Speech disorders in adults can be very embarrassing, and this could be her way of gaining control of her speech.

Post 1

I know someone who often pauses as if to take a breath between syllables and words while speaking. Is this a speech disorder, or merely the way she talks? If it is a speech disorder, do you know what the specific disorder might be?

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