Speech & Language Communication Disorders
The speech and language program at Covenant HealthCare provides consultative, diagnostic and therapeutic services to children and adults.
What is a communication disorder?
- When a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with his or her voice, then he or she has a speech disorder. Difficulties pronouncing sounds, or articulation disorders, and stuttering are examples of speech disorders.
- When a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely (expressive language), then he or she has a language disorder. A stroke can result in aphasia, or a language disorder.
- Both children and adults can have speech and language disorders. They can occur as a result of a medical problem or have no known cause.
Medical & Developmental Conditions that can cause communication problems:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Dementia/Alzheimer's Disease
- Huntington's Disease
- Laryngeal Cancer
- Oral Cancer
- Right Hemisphere Brain Injury
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
- Cleft palate
- Cerebral palsy
Common communication diagnoses:
- Aphasia: Difficulty understanding spoken or written language (receptive) and/or difficulty communicating through speech and/or writing (expressive). Usually associated with an insult in the left hemisphere of the brain.
- Apraxia: Motor planning difficulties impacting speech/communication. Automatic or voluntary movements are often unaffected. (i.e. counting, common phrases, etc.)
- Dysarthria: Muscular weakness affecting face, lips, and/or tongue. Can impact speech and swallowing skills.
- Cognitive deficits: Difficulty with memory, problem solving, attention span, and/or visual perception. Usually associated with an insult to the right hemisphere of the brain.
Suggested ways to interact with family members and patients that have a communication deficit:
- Use the person's name and talk directly to them. If comprehension is a difficulty, keep your speech simple, short, and slow down somewhat. Speak clearly, but do not shout or use child-like language. Keep distractions at a minimum.
- Do not speak about the person in front of them, unless you are including them in the conversation. He/She may understand more than you think. Be aware of your body language and tone of voice.
- Give one step directions. "Sit up." "Drink your water." versus "Pick up the paper cup on the table and drink the water with your medication."
- Make sure the person is wearing hearing aids and/or glasses if needed. Also, make sure they can see you when you are talking.
- Asking yes/no questions may help the person to communicate with you; however, keep in mind that we often expect a 'yes' response to most questions asked.
- Offer choices and show examples when possible. Example: "Would you like to drink juice or pop?" (show the choices). Encourage the person to point to specific objects.
- Allow extra time for responses and continue to encourage communication.
- Be honest. If you do not understand what the person is trying to say, say so. Give them a little time and come back to it later.
- If the person is having difficulty with recall, review the calendar and recent events on a daily basis. Write down important information for them to reference.
Speech and Language Team
Our pathologists are specialists in communication, its normal development and its disorders. Each professional holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) in speech/language pathology granted by the American Speech/Language Hearing Association.
Language Development in Children
For more information, call 989.583.2752.