- Articulation disorders. The patient has trouble with certain syllables, or pronounces words incorrectly to such an extent that it is extremely difficult to understand what is being said.
- Fluency disorders. These are characterized by interruptions in the normal flow of speech. Stuttering – an abnormal repetition or prolonging of sounds, syllables or words – is the most common fluency disorder.
- Voice disorders. These involve problems with pitch, volume or voice quality.
- Dysphagia. Swallowing disorders can also cause trouble with speech.
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), commonly referred to as speech therapists, can evaluate a patient’s speech, language, cognitive, communication and swallowing skills in order to diagnose a speech disorder.
The SLP will gather a history of the child’s health, family, development and school performance before the evaluation. Depending on the age and attention span of the child, the evaluation may be completed in just one session, or it could span over several sessions. The length of the session depends on the SLP’s plan and the child’s cooperation.
The SLP will likely evaluate the following categories:
- Understanding and use of different words
- Correct use of words in correctly formed sentences
- Use of language for different purposes
- Pronunciation of speech sounds
- Physical ability to produce speech
- Voice quality
- Fluency or smooth flow of speech
- Fine motor skills.