Speech Impediments

Why can't some people talk? It is a common question that is difficult to find the answer to. While most of the causes are unknown, some of the known causes include neurological disorders, brain injuries, mental retardation or simply drug abuse. The effects of speech impairment vary from physical to mental to emotional to social and so on. A speech impediment is any type of communication disorder. These disorders do not only mean that any speech/noise is impossible to make; speech impediments simply means that normal speech is disrupted. When a person has lost all speaking ability, they are considered mute.
Some of these speech impediments include:
  • Stuttering
    • Sounds, syllables, or words are repeated or extended
    • Disrupts normal flow of speech
  • Lisps
    • Individual unable to pronounce silibants
  • Cluttering-
    • Speech literally becomes cluttered with faulty phrasing
    • Not the same as stuttering; does not involve hesitation

By Choice

Some people that are deaf make the choice to not talk because they can't hear words, or how words are actually suppose to sound. They feel that because they can't hear sounds they will not be able to speak correctly, and they feel embarrassed. Also, some deaf people make the choice not to talk because they simply don't know how.

From Voice to None

A person can become mute in a few ways; their voice box and/or brain might be damaged during some point in their life to the extent that they are unable to talk. There is also something called "selective muteness", which is an anxiety disorder in which a person chooses not to speak on their own. This choice can sometimes be brought on by a traumatic event in their life, such as the death of someone close to them or an accident.

Innate Qualities

Some people are not given the choice to not speak at all. There is a small group of people that are born with problems in their throats or vocal cords. Is is also possible that a person can be born with nervous system problems affecting the control of their tongue, breathing, or mouth movements; this is called "physically mute."

-the following post was written by Cat but posted by Erika-

Speed Defect

A speech defect is defined as any condition that causes problems with how someone mentally forms words or how they physically form the words. They can be caused from "organic" abnormalities such as deafness, cleft palate, dental abnormalities, and brain damage. They could also be caused by "functional' abnormalities which are psychological. Treatment of a speech defect can include correcting organic conditions, psychotherapy, and training in proper articulation.
One way someone works on fixing a speech defect is working with a speech-language pathologist. They would work on helping kids fix articulation problems, which is when a word or sound comes out wrong (an example is run coming out as won or lisps). Also, they work on fluency disorders, this is when a child has problems with saying a complete word and often repeats sounds (an example is a stutter). They work on resonance, which is when people can't understand what a child is trying to say (they often sound like they have a cold). Finally, they work with language disorders, which is when a child might have trouble understanding people and putting words together to express a thought.
A child might go to a pathologist for many reasons, often because of a medical concern such as hearing impairments, weak muscles around the mouth, a cleft lip or palate, autism, breathing disorder, or a swallowing disorder. A child going to a speech therapist would first be tested to see what kind of problems they have, and what are causing them. After they are diagnosed, the therapist would work on the child by having them practice sounds . Often they show the child how to make the sound, and then the child would try to copy it while watching themselves make the sound in a mirror.

An example from my life:

In elementary school we had little buddies, our buddies were kids in lower grades that we were assigned to talk with and play with. I was assigned a little girl with a speech defect. She had had ear infections as a kid and couldn’t hear herself when she was learning to speak, because of this she had started seeing a speech pathologist when she was older and could hear again. I found when I was talking to her that she was extremely sweet, but if she was having trouble speaking she would be very shy. The most important thing I learned when working with her was to help her learn to say the write words and getting her to speak her mind, because a lot of the adults would nod their head and go on without trying to understand her. This only makes her close off and speak less. If you keep talking to her and connect with her, she speaks more, and she was able to practice her speaking and eventually speak without a problem.