Most people take the ability to communicate for granted. However, impaired communication skills can make even simple interactions difficult. They may also create social problems.
Communication is defined as the exchange of information and ideas, which involves encoding, transmitting, and decoding messages. Communication is an interactive process requiring two or more participants. A communication disorder exist when the transmission or perception of messages is faulty. About 3% of schoolchildren have a communication disorder.
Speech is the process of producing languabe by making appropriate vocal sound patterns. Speech is one of the most complex behaviors a human being can physically accomplish. There are three main types of speech disorders, described below.
Articulartion disorders involve abnormal production of speech sounds. The most common articulation errors include distortions, substitutions, omissions, and additions. Articulation disorders may have physical causes,or may be due to learning and/or other environmental factors. Whether an articulation disorder is a problem depends on the developmental stage of a child. For example, it is normal for a three year old to say "wabbit" instead of "rabbit". But when a twelve year old does this, it is abnormal and needs speech therapy.
Voice disorders involve the absense or abnormal production of voice quality, pitch, loudness, resonance, and/or duration. Voice disorders are not common in children and are usually the result of damage to the larynx.
Fluency relates to the pattern of rate and flow of speech. Problems in fluency include blocking, repeating, or prolonging sounds, syllables, words or phrases. Stuttering is the most frequent fluency disorder, affecting 2% of children.
Language disorders include difficulties expressing language (expressive) and difficulties perceiving language (receptive). Basically, the ability to understand and properly learn the structure of language is affected.
Language disorders may involve difficulties with the form of language. Three rule systems apply to the form of language: phonology, morphology, and syntax. Phonology is the rule system that governs individual and combined sounds of language. Morphology is the rule system governming the structure of words. The use of word modifications, like suffixes -er, -ing, fall under the study of morphology. Syntax refers to the ordering of words in such a way that they can make sense.
Language disorders may also involve other dimensions oflanguage. Content and semantics deal with the meaning of words and word combinations. Pragmatics is sociolinguistic aspect of words.
Students with language disorders may be deficient in one or several areas of language. Such students often need professional speech therapy to assist them in acquiring normal language skills.