The Sounds of Silence: Defining Communication Disorders & How Speech-Language Pathologists Can Help

posted by Laura Johnson on Wednesday, February 5, 2020

You probably take your hearing and speech for granted. But think for a minute what life would be like in a silent world. No talking, no listening…no communication.

Communication is the heart and soul of human existence. Our ability to communicate lets us build relationships, learn from others and, ultimately, to live in society.

 Communication is a two-way process. We take information in (receptive communication) and we express our own thoughts (expressive communication). Conditions that impair an individual’s ability to receive or express information are called communication disorders. These disorders can be mild or severe. Either way, we are ready to help.

Who has communication disorders?

Nearly 1 in 12 (7.7 percent) of U.S. children ages 3-17 has had a disorder related to voice, speech, language, or swallowing in the past 12 months. Anyone at any age can have a communication impairment.

How do people with communication disorders cope?

Most people with communication disorders minimize the effects of their condition through rehabilitation, medicine, surgery, education and therapy. Communication disorders do not have to be problems.

Who can help?

Speech-Language Pathologists are the professionals who diagnose and treat speech, language and related disorders. They teach people coping strategies and provide treatment to eliminate or minimize speech, language, voice and swallowing related problems.

Common speech, language and related disorders include:

Language Disorders - About 6 million American school children have problems understanding language, affecting their school performance and social development. Two-thirds of these children are boys.

Articulation disorders - About 8-9 percent of young children have noticeable speech disorders including stuttering, speech sound disorders, and dysarthria; the majority of these disorders have no known cause.

Voice disorders - More than 1 million Americans cannot speak. Technology, including voice synthesizing devices, are helping them to speak their mind.

Dysphagia - Swallowing disorders affect between 6-10 million Americans, most of them older than 65. Swallowing disorders cause discomfort, social isolation and, in some cases, can be life-threatening. 

Aphasia - People with aphasia can think and say words clearly, but cannot put words together to express their thoughts. More than 1 million Americans have aphasia. Stroke and head injury are the most frequent causes.

When to seek help

Talk with your primary physician and consult a certified Speech-Language Pathologist for a thorough assessment if you:

  • Have a child whose language development concerns you. Research shows parents’ concerns are a reliable indicator of language delay. Familiarize yourself with normal speech and language development;
  • Think your child is being mislabeled as a “behavior problem,” “inattentive,” or “learning disabled” in school. Often these problems are speech-language disorders in disguise;
  • Have problems with memory, logical thinking, or expressing your ideas. Even minor accidents can cause injuries that can cause disturbances in the pars of our brain that control speech and language.

If you or someone you know is having difficulties with speech, language or swallowing, please contact our Speech-Language Pathologists for more information. They are located in Spencer Hospital’s Rehab Services department and can be reached at 712-264-6189.  

About The Author

Laura Johnson

Laura Johnson is a Speech and Language Pathologist at the Spencer Hospital. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders and Sciences and a Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology from the University of Northern Iowa. Laura works with adults and children with speec ... read more