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Learn More About Communication Disorders In Children And Teens

Communication Disorders In Children And Teens

Communication disorders typically refer to conditions in which people experience difficulties in speech, communication, language, or combinations involving the three areas.

One in ten American children have a communication disorder. This means almost six million American children and teens have either speech or language disorders.

Types of Communication Disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5, or the DSM-5) in 2013 put communication disorders into four major categories as follows:

  • Language Disorder: The DSM-5 defines this disorder as difficulties in obtaining and using information that involves any language methods. 
  • Speech Sound Disorder (SSD): Any child experiencing this disorder has difficulties in making certain sounds.
  • Child-Onset Fluency Disorder (COND): This disorder subtype happens when children and teens can’t communicate in natural flows.
  • Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder (SCD): This communication disorder subtype is the most similar to autism due to the difficulties in social communication.

Prevalence of Communication Disorders In Children and Teens

Generally, more boys are experiencing communication disorders than girls. More specifically:

  • 9.6% of American boys have a voice, speech, or language disorders.
  • Even though stuttering can happen in all ages, it happens more frequently in 2-6 years old children.
  • Boys are 2-3 times more likely to experience stuttering than girls.
  • The first six months of life are the most crucial moment for children to develop language capabilities.

Causes of Communication Disorders

The following are the possible causes for communication disorders:

  • Injuries in brains in any form (including but not limited to cerebral palsy)
  • Vocal cord injuries
  • Drug abuse
  • Developmental issues
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder, learning disorder, or similar disorders

Symptoms of Communication Disorders

Generally, children and teens experiencing communication disorders will experience the following symptoms:

  • Limited abilities to speak even when they’ve entered school.
  • Difficulties in understanding words and constructing sentences (for kids) or expressing abstract ideas (for teens).
  • Difficulty understanding non-complicated instructions or naming many types of objects.

These three symptoms may resemble other health problems or mental disorders. So, children must undergo an assessment with an appropriate healthcare professional.

Assessment For Communication Disorders

Speech-language pathologists are people who can assess how severe the communication disorders are in your children or teenagers. Child psychiatrists and counselors will help if your children or teens have emotional or behavioral issues.

The assessment will consist of psychological testing of the children’s thinking abilities. It will also consist of psychometric testings to test the reasoning skills and children’s reactivity.

Treatment And Expected Outcomes of Communication Disorders

There are several steps that parents can execute for treating communication disorders in their children:

  • Identification: Start by speaking with your child's pediatrician about your concerns.
  • Early intervention: Parents can provide children with toys, books, and other media to enhance language skills for the first six months of their children’s lives. By the time children reach 1-2 years old, they can pick up and combine new words.
  • School ages: Parents can work with speech pathologists during school hours. Some schools also provide peer support to enhance linguistic skills. The expected outcomes would be the children’s enhanced communication capabilities.

Source: https://leader.pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/leader.NIB1.20082015.10