What are speech problems?
Talking is something most of us take for granted. We think something in our brains then the brain sends a message to the muscles that control speech. Then the muscles in the mouth, face, tongue and throat work together to form the words.
Sometimes we all have difficulty getting our thoughts out into words but it becomes a problem when some people have an interruption somewhere along the line and some part of the process doesn’t work.
It could be something to do with:
Articulation, where the sound doesn’t come out right e.g. saying’d’ instead of ’th’, or ’l’ instead of ’r’.
Fluency, where someone has problems getting the word out and stutters, e.g. ’st-st-st-stop.’
Resonance or voice disorders, e.g. someone whose voice is very quiet so that others cannot hear what they are saying. Sometimes the person may sound like they have a bad cold all the time.
What causes problems with speech?
Sometimes it is difficult for doctors and scientists to work out why talking is hard for some kids.
Some medical conditions cause kids to have problems with speech.
Hearing impairment (not able to hear)
Nodules or lumps on the vocal chords
Weak muscles around the mouth
Stuttering is also called disfluency. Stuttering seems in part to be genetic. Someone else in the family may have a problem with stuttering. There are about 3 times more males than females who stutter.
If you’re having problems with speech, your doctor, mum or teacher may suggest that you go to a speech therapist. A speech therapist will listen to you and may also send you for a hearing test.
They will talk to you and your parents about how to help you with speaking. You will work together in therapy sessions, but will also need to practice what you have learned at home so that your speech will improve more quickly. Some kids can be unkind. If you are being teased then talk to your parents, teacher or other trusted adult. Stick up for yourself.
If you have a speech problem then practice your speech exercises as much as you can. It may seem a bit strange at first, but in time it really does help. It is important to realise that you are not alone. Many famous people have overcome difficulties with speech.
Rowan Atkinson - British Actor (Mr. Bean)
Steven Hawking - Scientist
Sam Neil - Actor (Jurassic Park)
James Earl Jones – Actor (Coming to America)
King George VI of Great Britain (did you see the film ’The King’s Speech’?)
Samuel L Jackson – Actor (The Avengers)