Considering that speech disorders are so much more common in children compared to adults, some may overlook treatment options for adults. According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately four million American adults struggle with a speech disorder. In this case, three million with stuttering and one million with aphasia — both treatable conditions. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of speech disorders.
What are speech disorders?
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), people struggling with a speech disorder struggle with making the right noises and/or pronouncing words correctly. Speech and language disorders have slight differences even though they ultimately result in the same thing, trouble communicating.
What are the different types of speech disorders?
Symptoms and severity of speech and language disorders often vary depending on the specific patient. Speech and language disorders can be put into the following categories:
When motor skills in the face and tongue are affected to such an extent that the patient can no longer make the proper sounds and speech can often become unrecognizable.
Due to an inability to control the muscles in the face, speech patterns become inconsistent and/or slurred, making communication more difficult.
When someone is unable to keep the pace of normal speech, it’s characterized by stammering and sometimes repeating words before being able to get them out verbally.
Having trouble making specific sounds necessary for everyday speech.
A language disorder that causes the patient to become unable to comprehend information.
Causes issues with swallowing.
Encompasses issues where the vocal cords prevent proper speech.
How are speech disorders diagnosed?
To be officially diagnosed with a speech disorder, you’ll likely have to be diagnosed by a speech therapist. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a speech therapist will evaluate your particular issue(s) with speech, diagnose the issue, and offer an individualized treatment strategy to help you learn to better communicate.
What causes speech disorders?
Speech disorders in adults are generally caused by illness or some kind of trauma (typically to the brain) that causes speech impairment. The following are some examples of medical disorders or trauma to the brain that can cause speech disorders in adults.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, this is the most common type of dementia, making up as much as 60-80% of all instances of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological illness that can cause a multitude of problems with speech and can eventually lead to trouble speaking at all.
Other neurological diseases that can cause speech disorders
According to the Cleveland Clinic, many neurological diseases often cause dysarthria (see above). Conditions that can cause dysarthria (and possibly other speech complications) include:
- Parkinson’s disease — affects roughly 70-100% of Parkinson’s sufferers
- Multiple sclerosis (MS) — affects 25-50% of MS sufferers
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — affects 30% of ALS sufferers
- Huntington’s disease
- Cerebral Palsy
- Muscular dystrophy
Dysarthria is also common in patients who have suffered a stroke, experienced a traumatic brain injury, or in those with a brain tumor.
Autism in adults
According to ASHA, autism spectrum disorder can have a profound effect on a person’s ability to communicate. The degree to which autism affects communication varies from mild discomfort with and struggling with communication to being unable to communicate verbally at all. Many people with autism spectrum disorder can be helped with speech therapy.
Can speech disorders be prevented?
There is no specific way to prevent speech disorders in adults since they are generally a result of other underlying conditions. However, you can prevent some of the underlying conditions by keeping yourself healthy and active. There are also many ways to treat speech disorders.
Speech disorder treatments
According to the Mayo Clinic, treating a speech disorder is done by seeing a speech and language pathologist (often simply called a speech therapist). The speech therapist will evaluate your unique issues with speech and come up with an individualized treatment plan to help you recover. Treatment often involves the following:
- Physical exercises that strengthen the muscles of the mouth and throat
- Exercises to learn to move the mouth in the proper ways for specific sounds
- Comprehension exercises to enhance language skills
- Other exercises to assist with learning and strengthening speech
Help for speech disorders
Struggling with your speech as an adult can be a very frustrating challenge. Luckily, there are treatment options available to you to hopefully regain some (ideally all) of your speech abilities. Never be afraid to ask for help.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a speech disorder, be sure to check out the speech therapy services offered through Haven Health.
Autism (Autism Spectrum Disorder). (2023).
Marzinske, M. (2022). Speaking clearly: Help for people with speech and language disorders.
Speech and Language Disorders. (2023).
Speech Therapy. (2022).
What is Alzheimer’s Disease? (2023).