Catagories of Disorders

Communication disorders

A communication disorder is an impaired ability to receive, send, process, and comprehend concepts or verbal, nonverbal and graphic symbol systems. It can range in severity from mild to profound and may develop suddenly (acquired) or be present from birth (developmental).

Communication disorders could manifest in the modalities of hearing, language, and/or speech. There are several different types of communication disorders, including:

  • Expressive language disorder - Revealed through developmental delays and/or difficulties in the ability to produce speech.
  • Mixed receptive-expressive language disorder - Revealed through developmental delays and/or difficulties in the ability to understand spoken language and produce speech.

Individuals may demonstrate one or any combination of communication disorders.

Speech disorders

Speech disorders refer to difficulties producing speech sounds. They might be characterized by an interruption in the flow or rhythm of speech, such as stuttering, which is called dysfluency. Speech sound disorders is a broad term and can include problems with articulation (making sounds) and/or phonological processes (sound patterns). Children generally make some mistakes as they learn to speak a language. A speech sound disorder occurs when these mistakes persist past a certain age.


Articulation is the process by which sounds, syllables, and words are formed when your teeth, tongue, lips, and palate alter the air stream coming from the vocal folds. When someone has problems producing sounds, syllables or words these may constitute an articulation disorder. Young children often make speech errors as they learn a language. For example, many young children sound like they are making a "w" sound for an "r" sound (e.g., "wabbit" for "rabbit") or may leave sounds out of words, such as "nana" for "banana." While these errors are expected as a child learns a new language, it may signal an articulation disorder if these errors continue past the expected age. Seek professional help if you have concerns or require more information about this.


Phonology is the way sounds are organised (sound system) in a language and the rules that govern the sound combinations. A phonological disorder involves patterns of sound errors. For example, substituting sounds made in the back of the mouth like "k" and "g" for those in the front of the mouth like "t" and "d" (e.g., saying "tore" for "core" or "do" for "go"). One can see how this makes it difficult for a listener to understand the child. If patterns like these persist beyond a certain age, the child may have a phonological disorder or a phonological delay and you should contact a speech and language therapist for further advice.


Dysfluency is an interruption in the flow or rhythm of speech, such as stuttering. Some approaches used are:

  • Breathing and relaxation techniques.
  • Identification; to allow the stammerer to become more aware of the stammering behaviours and feeling which the stammerer wishes to change.
  • Desensitization; to reduce negative emotional reactions to stammering and learn new ways of 'coping' with the threat and occurrence of stammering.
  • Modifying the stammer, which may include pre-block & in-block corrections and post-block modifications.
There are many various approaches that are used, and vary differently between children, teenagers and adults. If you want more in-depth discussion regarding which approaches may work best for you, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me.

Voice Disorders

Voice Disorders are conditions that affect the production of speech. There are two major groups of voice disorders. These are:

  • Functional voice disorders- encompasses all disorders that result in physical change, but do not have a known cause. They are typically hyperfunctional voice disorders (e.g., abuse or misuse), Psychogenic Voice Disorders and Voice Disorders with no indication of pathology.
  • Organic voice disorders- those disorders that do have a known cause. They can be subcategorized into four categories: Neurological Voice Disorders, Viral/Bacterial/Infectious Voice Disorders, Traumatic/Surgical Voice Disorders, and Other Voice Disorders (i.e., those with no determined etiology).

Voice therapy is commonly used for treating voice disorders. Occasionally, surgery is done to remove cancerous cells (in the case of carcinoma) or repair damaged vocal folds.

Cleft lip and palate

A cleft is a gap in part of the body that results from incomplete closing of a specific structure during development. Clefts that occur in the lip and palate (roof of the mouth) are called oral-facial clefts. There are two main types of oral-facial clefts: cleft lip/palate and isolated cleft palate (cleft palate occurring without cleft lip). A cleft lip can range in severity from a small notch in the upper lip to a complete opening in the lip extending into the bottom of the nose. The upper gum also may be involved. Cleft lip can occur on one or both sides. Cleft palate can involve only the soft tissue in the back of the mouth (soft palate) or extend forward through the front of the mouth (hard palate). One or both sides of the palate can be affected.

Dysphagia/Swallowing difficulties

Dysphagia is a difficulty in swallowing. There are two types of dysphagia: oropharyngeal dysphagia (a swallowing difficulty in the mouth) and esophageal dysphagia (a difficulty in the esophagus). Based on the type of dysphagia, treatment may include medication, surgery, muscle exercises, and consulting a speech pathologist. Dysarthria Dysarthria is a broad term encompassing neuromuscular impairments of the speech mechanism (lips, tongue, jaw, palate). Speech becomes affected due to this weakness of the speech mechanisms. Dyspraxia Difficulty with voluntarily making the movements required for speech. It can be mild, moderate or severe. Adults with dyspraxia have the capacity to say speech sounds but have difficulties with the motor speech planning and programming. The brain has problems planning and coordinating to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis.

Cerabral palsy

Cerebral palsy is the term used to describe the motor impairment resulting from brain damage in the young child regardless of the cause of the damage or its effect on the child. Cerebral palsy may be classified by the type of movement problem (such as spastic cerebral palsy) or by the body parts involved (hemiplegia, diplegia, and quadriplegia). Spasticity refers to the inability of a muscle to relax, while athetosis refers to an inability to control the movement of a muscle. Infants who at first are hypotonic wherein they are very floppy may later develop spasticity. Hemiplegia is cerebral palsy that involves one arm and one leg on the same side of the body, whereas with diplegia the primary involvement is both legs. Quadriplegia refers to a pattern involving all four extremities as well as trunk and neck muscles. Another frequently used classification is ataxia, which refers to balance and coordination problems. The motor disability of a child with CP varies greatly from one child to another; thus generalizations about children with cerebral palsy can only have meaning within the context of the subgroups described above.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behaviour. Autistic disorder, sometimes called autism or classical ASD, is the most severe form of ASD, while other conditions along the spectrum include a milder form known as Asperger's syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS). Although ASD varies significantly in character and severity, it occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and affects every age group.

Learning disabilities

Learning Disabilities encompass difficulties in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language (spoken or written). Difficulties may manifest in imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations. Such disorders include conditions as perceptual difficulties, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. Specific Learning Disabilities can be attributed to: •Faulty brain structures i.e., damage to an area or the interconnections between these. •A lack of sensory stimulation leading to a lack of the development in corresponding inter-connections, i.e. phonological awareness deficits. •Minor physical faults i.e. squints, high frequency hearing loss, leading to imperfect information and faulty processing.

Auditory processing disorder

Auditory processing disorders are deficits in the processing of audible signals that occur in the absence of impaired hearing or impaired intellect. Information processing is complex and involves the interaction of perceptual, cognitive, and linguistic functions. There can be limitations in the transmission, analysis, organization, storage, retrieval, and use of information contained in audible signals. If you have concerns that your child may not be understanding information when presented to them auditorily, you should seek to probe this further with a therapist.