Definitions of Common Disorders

 Woman and female toddler lying on rug with book, looking at each other

Adult Language Disorders = An impairment in the ability to receive, send, process, and comprehend concepts or verbal, nonverbal and graphic symbol systems.

Aphasia = The impairment in the ability to speak, or understand, or read or write which is caused by injury to the brain from stroke, (CVA), tumor, trauma or neurological disease.

Apraxia of Speech, (Articulation) – Childhood and Adult = Developmental or acquired disturbance in the production of speech sounds characterized by substitutions, omissions, additions or distortions that may interfere with intelligibility.

Auditory Processing Disorder = The inability or impaired ability to attend to, discriminate, recognize or comprehend information presented auditorily even though the individual has normal hearing and normal intelligence. However, auditory processing disorder may lead to or be associated with difficulties in higher order language, learning, and communication functions. Auditory processing disorder may coexist with other disorders (e.g., attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], language impairment, and learning disability), it is not the result of these other disorders.

Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder = A disorder identified by a failure to develop normal verbal and nonverbal communication skills and reduced responsiveness to others within the environment.

Child Language Disorders (Toddler – Adolescent) = is impaired comprehension and/or use of spoken, written and/or other symbol systems. The disorder may involve the form of language, (phonology, morphology and syntax), the content of language, (semantics), and/or the function of language in communication, (pragmatics), in any combination.

Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate = A congenital opening in the lip or palate caused by the failure of sections of the mouth to fuse together during prenatal development.

Cognitive-Communication Disorders = Difficulty with any aspect of communication that is affected by disruption of cognition. Communication may be verbal or nonverbal and includes listening, speaking, gesturing, reading, and writing in all domains of language, (phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic). Cognition includes cognitive processes and systems, (e.g., attention, perception, memory, organization, executive function). Areas of function affected by cognitive impairments include behavioral self-regulation, social interaction, activities of daily living, learning and academic performance, and vocational performance.

Dementia = Difficulty with any aspect of communication that is affected by disruption of cognition, typically due to the aging process. Communication may be verbal or nonverbal and includes listening, speaking, gesturing, reading, and writing in all domains of language, (phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic). Cognition includes cognitive processes and systems, (e.g., attention, perception, memory, organization, executive function). Areas of function affected by cognitive impairments include behavioral self-regulation, social interaction, activities of daily living, learning and academic performance, and vocational performance. In addition to cognitive-communication problems, swallowing disorders are often present in individuals with dementia.

Dysarthria = Neurological speech disorder that reflect abnormalities in the strength, speed, range, steadiness, tone, or accuracy of movements required for breathing, phonatory, resonatory, articulatory or prosodic aspects of speech production.

Dysphagia (Swallowing and Feeding Disorders) = Difficulties associated with swallowing liquids and/or solids during any of the three stages of the swallow, (oral, pharyngeal and/or esophageal).

Pediatric Dysphagia (From Birth) = The inability to acquire an adequate seal during breast feeding and/or bottle feeding while establishing an adequate suck-swallow and breathing pattern to meet nutritional requirements.  Any difficulties associated with the transition through solid foods from puree through semi-solids to solids as well as liquids from the bottle to the cup.

Pragmatic Language Disorders = Deficits in the area of language which focuses on the social use of language.

Selective Mutism = A failure to speak in specific social situations despite speaking in other situations, and it is typically a symptom of an underlying anxiety disorder.

Speech Sound Development and Disorders in Children & Adults (Phonology) = Disruption in the sound system of language and the rules that govern the sound combinations.

Stuttering (Fluency) = Disturbance in the normal fluency and time patterning of speech characterized to include one or more of the following: audible or silent blocking; sound and syllable repetitions; sound prolongations; interjections; broken words; circumlocutions or words produced with an excess of tension.  Secondary behaviors or secondary characteristics include the habitual use of speech musculature or of other body parts which the individual employs along with the primary characteristics which are thought to be initiated to release, conceal or modify the dysfluency.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) = Any injury to the head may cause traumatic brain injury (TBI). There are two major types of TBI: Penetrating Injuries: In these injuries, for example, a foreign object such as a bullet enters the brain and causes damage to specific brain parts. This focal, or localized, damage occurs along the route the object has traveled in the brain. Symptoms vary depending on the part of the brain that is damaged.  Closed Head Injuries: Closed head injuries result from a blow to the head as occurs, for example, in a car accident when the head strikes the windshield or dashboard.

Voice and Voice Disorders = Voice problem as having a pitch, loudness or vocal quality which draws attention to itself rather than to what the speaker is saying.  A voice problem may also include pain, discomfort or fatigue when voicing. Voice Disorders range from a mild laryngitis to severe life-threatening diseases that may require extensive treatments.  Any hoarseness or voice change which persists for longer than two weeks should be medically evaluated.

  • Some common signs of a voice disorder include: Hoarseness, loss of voice, voice breaks, changes in pitch, shortness of breath while speaking or singing, difficulty maintain/initiating soft voice, difficulty maintain/initiating loud voice, sore or scratchy throat, vocal fatigue when talking, neck and/or jaw muscle tension, loss of singing range, constant throat-clearing or coughing.

*The following information was gathered from ASHA.org


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