What adult speech and language difficulties exist, and where do they come from?
As a reminder, having a speech and language problem is not your fault! It can start in the womb, in childhood, or after an accident, illness, or injury. Below, you can read about different speech and language disorders. If you or someone you know is struggling with one of these issues, reach out today for a free consultation so we can explore how to expand the limits you may be living with.
Apraxia: to speak or move, our brain must send the appropriate signals to the part of our body we are giving instructions to, e.g., your thoughts have to move from your brain to your mouth and tell the muscles how to move to make the desired sounds. If you have apraxia, there’s a disconnect occurring in that process and it can be very challenging to move your lips, tongue, or jaw in the necessary way. This can be very frustrating because oftentimes you are unable to say what you mean, and it can leave you feeling perpetually misunderstood. You may have trouble imitating sounds, saying sounds, or you may add or leave out sounds, or not be able to say anything at all. Stroke, traumatic brain injury, dementia, tumors, and other brain diseases can all cause apraxia. Treatment focuses on training the muscles to move and make the appropriate sounds again.
Dysarthria: is a speech disorder occurring when you have weak muscles due to brain damage. We use a surprising number of muscles to talk including our face, tongue, lips, throat, and breathing muscles. This can show up as slurred or mumbled speech, slowed or rapid speech, sounding robotic, hoarse, or breathy. It could be a result of brain damage at birth, stroke, tumor, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis/ALS, or cerebral palsy. Treatment depends of course on which aspect you’re struggling with and will be tailored specifically to meet your needs. It can include strengthening muscles, breathwork, speech repetition, and augmentative and alternative communication techniques.
Stuttering: let’s face it, we all stutter at times! Adding words or sounds to your speech are called disfluencies and some people just have more of them than others. They may struggle with repeating all or parts of words, elongating sounds, or struggle to get words out at all. Stuttering can also come with social anxiety as many people feel more comfortable simply avoiding certain words, situations, or talking to others at all. Frustrations or excitement can exacerbate stuttering, and many people find themselves embarrassed and nervous to talk. There are many treatments for stuttering and an SLP can help you speak more freely by reducing tension, working on exposures to anxiety-producing situations, addressing pronunciation, and improving confidence.
Voice disorders: can be long-or-short term problems, including chronic cough, paradoxical vocal fold movement, spasmodic dysphonia, vocal fold nodules and polyps, and vocal fold paralysis. Other problems could occur from yelling or cheering too loudly for too long and “losing your voice” from a cold. The goal of any treatment is to give you the right skills and tools to manage your symptoms, increase awareness of what triggers your symptoms, assess and address any medical issues that may need treatment.
Aphasia: is a language disorder occurring from brain damage, often caused by stroke. Your left brain is responsible for language, so damage to the left hemisphere often leads to speech and language difficulties. It does not impact your intelligence or ability to think but it can make it difficult to speak, read, or write. It can be frustrating when you can’t think of what you want to say, say the wrong word, switch words around, or even make up words. In this case, if others speak too quickly, or the atmosphere is too loud, it can be very difficult to comprehend what others are trying to communicate to you. Treatment depends on your wants and needs, but we’re confident we can help you improve your quality of life and communication with others.
Medical conditions can also contribute to speech and language difficulties. If you or someone you love is suffering from dementia, laryngeal cancer, oral cancer, or a brain injury an SLP could be beneficial in improving quality of life. SLPs can help individuals stay as independent as possible and help get you closer to your previous baseline functioning.