May is Better Speech and Hearing Month!

Each year, the month of May is dedicated as Better Speech and Hearing Month (BSHM) in order to raise awareness about communication disorders. Millions of people experience difficulties with speech, language, or hearing; BSHM hopes to serve these individuals by drawing attention to how these difficulties are identified and treated, and how individuals suffering from communication disorders can communicate with others to the best of their ability. In celebrating BSHM, we will present blogs with general information on communication disorders through the month of May. Today, we will focus on two childhood disorders of speech: Childhood Apraxia of Speech and Dysarthria.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS): Children with this disorder have difficulty producing sounds and words. In children with CAS, the difficulty is not the result of paralysis or muscle weakness, but rather, a difficulty in planning the action. In other words, the child’s brain cannot properly communicate with the muscles of speech to have them perform the intended action. The child with CAS knows what he or she wants to say; they just have difficulty coordinating the movements needed to do so.

Dysarthria: Like CAS, dysarthria is characterized by a difficulty producing sounds. However, in this case the difficulty is due to a weakening, slowing, or paralysis of the muscles needed to produce speech. The communication between the brain and muscles remain intact; however, the muscles are not able to perform properly. Dysarthria can be caused by several different factors, including cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.

Since either of these disorders can render a child very difficult to understand, frustration is a common side effect. Children will attempt to communicate and often become extremely aggravated and upset when those around them cannot understand what they are trying to say. If you find yourself in this type of situation, the best course of action is to remain calm, speak to the child in a soothing manner, and sympathize with their frustration. In order to help the child improve his or her speech and communication, seek the help of a professional speech-language pathologist. Therapy can help children with speech disorders improve their speaking and communication skills and reduce frustration and anxiety. Visit us at http://www.speechassociatesofny.com to find the speech-language pathologist that is right for you and your needs.

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