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Speech Sound & Motor Speech Disorders
Children and adults with speech sound disorders have difficulty producing certain
sounds and words clearly, which may make their speech hard to understand.
Speech sound disorders can be either an articulation disorder, a phonological processing disorder or both.
Motor speech disorders include two primary conditions: dysarthria and apraxia of speech (AOS)
Focus on errors (e.g., distortions and substitutions) in production of individual speech sounds. Individuals who have articulation disorders have difficulty producing isolated sounds. They may have difficulty positioning the articulators – lips, tongue, teeth, jaw – in the correct place to make specific sounds. These errors can include the omission, distortion, or substitution of one sound for another sound.
Focus on predictable, rule-based errors (e.g., fronting, stopping, and final consonant deletion) that affect more than one sound. It is how we use individual sounds in the context of language. Children with phonological delays/disorders frequently exhibit consistent patterns of sound substitutions or omissions. For example, children with the phonological pattern of "fronting" consistently produce sounds made with the back of the tongue (like /k/ and /g/) with the front of the tongue; so, /k/ becomes /t/ ("key" sounds like "tea") and /g/ becomes /d/ ("go" sounds like "doe").
A motor speech disorder that occurs when the brain is unable to process the movements necessary to produce speech. Apraxia of speech can also be called childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) when diagnosed in children. It is similar to apraxia in the adult population in that these children know what they want to say but cannot plan and sequence the oral movements. People with apraxia may exhibit difficulty producing vowel sounds, have inconsistent sound errors and difficulty imitating others oral movements. Stroke, traumatic brain injury, and other neurological diseases can cause apraxia of speech in adults. For children with CAS, etiologies are largely unknown.
Another motor speech disorder that can affect a child’s or adult’s ability to speak clearly. Dysarthria occurs when the muscles of the mouth, face, or respiratory system needed to produce speech have weakened. For both age groups, symptoms of dysarthria include slurred, inconsistent speech that may sound robotic or choppy. Similar to apraxia, dysarthria may be the result of a neurological impairment. Common neurological impairments that cause dysarthria are stroke, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, and Multiple sclerosis. Dysarthria can also result from conditions that produce facial paralysis and muscle weakness.