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Chapter 2 - Developmental speech disorders

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2014

Louise Cummings
Affiliation:
Nottingham Trent University
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Summary

For a significant number of children, the acquisition of speech in the developmental period does not occur along normal lines. During embryonic development, a range of craniofacial malformations may occur, leading to structural defects of the anatomical structures which are necessary for speech production. For example, the tissues of the palate and upper lip may fail to fuse during the first trimester of pregnancy, resulting in a cleft of the lip and hard and soft palates. This craniofacial anomaly may occur in isolation or alongside a number of other defects as part of a syndrome (e.g. Pierre Robin syndrome). Other syndromes in which there is abnormal development of the organs of articulation include a small mandible (micrognathia) in Treacher Collins syndrome and abnormal palatal morphology in Down's syndrome. In all these cases, speech acquisition is likely to be compromised to a greater or lesser degree.

Aside from structural defects, the development of speech can also be compromised on account of a neurological impairment. A speech disorder known as dysarthria results when there is damage of the motor centres in the brain and/or any of the pathways which transmit nervous impulses to the muscles of the articulators. The most common cause of developmental dysarthria is cerebral palsy. The child with congenital cerebral palsy has brain damage, often of unknown origin. In cases where the cause of this damage is known, aetiologies can include infections (e.g. maternal rubella), birth anoxia, prenatal exposure to alcohol and cocaine, and traumatic brain injury. Other, less common causes of developmental dysarthria include Duchenne's muscular dystrophy and genetic syndromes (e.g. Down's syndrome). The severity of the speech disorder in dysarthria can range from mild to severe. In the former case, there may be a negligible impact on the intelligibility of speech. In the latter case, speech may be so unintelligible that an alternative means of communication must be found for the client. The child with developmental dysarthria may also have swallowing problems (dysphagia). These problems are also assessed and treated by speech and language therapists.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2014

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References

Campbell, T. and Gretz, S. A. 2009. ‘Apraxia of speech in childhood’, in McNeil, M. R. (ed.), Clinical management of sensorimotor speech disorders, second edition, New York: Thieme, 295–7.Google Scholar
Cummings, L. 2008. Clinical linguistics, Edinburgh:Edinburgh University Press (sections 2.2, 2.3 and 4.2).Google Scholar
Cummings, L. 2014a. Communication disorders, Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan (chapter 2).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gillam, R. B., Marquardt, T. P. and Martin, F. N. 2011. Communication sciences and disorders: from science to clinical practice, second edition, Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers (chapter 8).Google Scholar
Hodge, M. 2014. ‘Developmental dysarthria’, in Cummings, L. (ed.), Cambridge handbook of communication disorders, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 26–48.Google Scholar
Love, R. J. 2000. Childhood motor speech disability, second edition, Boston: Allyn and Bacon (chapters 1, 3, 4 and 5).Google Scholar
McNeill, B. 2014. ‘Developmental verbal dyspraxia’, in Cummings, L. (ed.), Cambridge handbook of communication disorders, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 49–60.Google Scholar
Peterson-Falzone, S. J., Hardin-Jones, M. A. and Karnell, M. P. 2010. Cleft palate speech, St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier (chapter 7).Google Scholar
Riski, J. E. 2014. ‘Cleft lip and palate and other craniofacial anomalies’, in Cummings, L. (ed.), Cambridge handbook of communication disorders, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 3–25.Google Scholar
Russell, J. 2013. ‘Orofacial anomalies’, in Damico, J. S., Müller, N. and Ball, M. J. (eds.), The handbook of language and speech disorders, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 474–96.Google Scholar

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