Dealing with Communication Disability & Speech Impairment

It has been estimated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that there are approximately 14 million people suffering from speech and language disabilities. All these people may have different reasons as to the cause of their speech impairment, but they are all in the same boat. They all suffer the same consequences and have to deal with the same hardships. Whatever the cause may be, there are a number of things that any individual can do to improve their speech disability. By seeking help from appropriate individuals, speech disabilities may even be overcome eventually.

Speech and Language Disabilities

Individuals suffering from speech disabilities often show limited or no speaking ability. They lose the ability to interact normally with others and have issues in expressing themselves through words. Speech impairments may also cause a difficulty in public speaking and articulation. Overall, an individual experiences difficulty in communication skills and shows evident signs of speech difficulties.

Causes of Speech and Language Disabilities

Speech and language disabilities may occur as a side effect of many other forms of disabilities and conditions. The speech impairment may be the direct result of something entirely difficult and yet affect an individual’s life tremendously. Some of the causes of speech disability are:

  1. Hearing Impairment: Many a time, speech disabilities are formed due to a loss in hearing as hearing is very critical in the development of your speech skills.
  2. Brain injury: A brain injury due to some accident may hurt the region of the brain which controls speech and languages. This might cause a communication disability due to damage to that control region.
  3. Learning disabilities: A child may develop speech disabilities if he is suffering from some form of learning disability as this hinders other areas of growth and development.
  4. Neurological disorders: Individuals suffering from neurological disorders might develop speech difficulties as well.
  5. Physical disabilities: Various physical disabilities result in speech impairments to the individual.
  6. Mental retardation: One may experience speech and language disabilities when they suffer from some kind of mental retardation.

Living with Speech Disabilities

As we can see, speech disabilities may occur due to several reasons. While some may overcome them with continuous practice and effort, others may find it next to impossible to get rid of this speech impairment from their lives. Instead of letting it get you down and affecting your life negatively, you can take a number of steps to seek help and make things look a little brighter for you. In order to cope with speech disabilities, one may consider the following points:

  • Therapy: Seek speech disability therapy from trained professionals to improve the quality of your speech.
  • Technology: Use the numerous technological products that are available to individuals suffering from speech disabilities in order to make daily activities a little simpler. Examples of such products are text to speech devices, communication aids, modified keyboards etc.
  • Don’t stress: Many individuals suffering from speech impairments increase the severity of their disorder by stressing out about it. Relaxing and explaining your situation to concerned individuals around you might help improving your condition.
  • Support groups: It is important to remember that you are not the only one suffering from a speech disability. There are many others and many support groups have been set up to help individuals like you.

Thus we see that speech disability can be of many different types. There are many treatment and help options available for individuals suffering from speech disabilities. Numerous devices are being created everyday to make the lives of these individuals with communication disabilities to lead a close to normal life. Various support groups and organizations have been set up to help with speech disabilities. Although in a lot of cases this speech impairment might be permanent, without a chance of ever gaining the speech ability back, these helpful tips might at least improve their lives and help them better cope with their speech difficulties.

References:

  1. Typical Speech and Language Development – American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

3 Comments

  1. Good summary. It is also worth mentioning that there is a condition known as Specific Language Impairment (SLI), which is a language impairment that occurs in children who do not have any of the 6 conditions listed here as common causes of a communication disabilities. SLI affects approximately 5-7% of preschool aged children and has been associated with reading difficulty among school children. With early diagnosis and treatment, children with SLI can often achieve language abilities similar to their peers, or at least strong enough to achieve academic success with minor accommodations.

  2. Good, but be sure not to confuse speech impairment with language impairment (as you did in your second paragraph). Speech impairments are physical in origin (usually), and thus there is nothing wrong with the person’s understanding of language or cognitive ability to communicate; rather, they merely cannot express it orally due to *physical* issues, whether that’s because of neurochemical abnormalities or damage to brain structures leading to loss of speech motor control. Saying that someone with a speech impairment doesn’t “know how to speak” would be like saying to an athlete who sustained a spinal cord injury, “you don’t know how to walk”.

    Language disabilities, in contrast, *do* refer to the gamut of cognitive difficulties with language and communication comprehension. Difficulty with writing, reading, and organizing speech, can all be classed under language disabilities/disorders.

  3. My husband has a Fluency speech disorder and has had it since childhood, after several years of therapy the disorder is as good as it is going to be. He has been harassed by several police officers and even had Department of Child Services called onhim from the kids school reporting that he was intoxicated at 7am while dropping off kids at school. He has had the police called on him and been pulled over on the side of the road and given field sobriety test and breathalizers at least 4 times in the past year. i am unable to find anyone who is knowledgable about his type of situation to help us…any advise? He feels like he is being violated becuase of his disability. Would this be tolerated if his disability was a physically visable one?

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