Speech & Language Communication Disorders

Whether you’re a child or an adult, we’re here for you. Because at Covenant HealthCare, we guarantee extraordinary care for every generation. And when it comes to speech and language communication disorders, we provide you with consultative, diagnostic and therapeutic services. So you can improve your speech, no matter who you are.

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)
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Autism
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Cleft palate
  • Dementia/Alzheimer's Disease
  • Huntington's Disease
  • Laryngeal Cancer
  • Oral Cancer
  • Right Hemisphere Brain Injury
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

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.

Helpful Resources
Language Development in Children

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 989-583-6386.