Communicating, of course, is a lot more than speaking. Many of our most
poignant moments are shared at the nonverbal level. Those of us who have
pets know how much closeness and companionship is possible without a dialogue
of words. And research on closeness shows that couples who have been married
for many years have a sort of "telegraphed" set of meanings
and share a great deal but talk less than newlyweds.
Choosing to share without speaking is not so tough, but being unable
to talk or to share the richness of speech is difficult. Since language
is a shared system for sharing ideas, exchanging information, expressing
the richness of our internal being.
Communications disorders are a cluster of attributes or symptoms. Some
are intertwined with other disorders -- for instance not being able to
hear makes it difficult to learn to speak; speaking one language until
7 or 8 years of age makes it difficult to learn a new language without
a strong accent; having a stroke may take away the ability to remember
words or form concepts into verbalizations.
|Communication: An intended
message is sent by one person and received by the other
|Language: formalized method of transmitting
an idea to others
||Spoken Language:transfer of ideas
and messages through formalized speech sounds
||Speech: vocalized sounds Might be
a singing dog :~}
Communications disorders are often divided into
A speech disorder is has to do with the way
the voice sounds - articulation, fluency, vocal tone or resonance
|A language disorder reflects problems in receiving
information, understanding the messages of others, being able to
translate feelings or ideas into a symbolic response
Abnormal speech that is unintelligible,
unpleasant, or interferes with communicating
Difficulty or inability to master
the various systems of rules in a language that interferes with
fluency - stuttering
voice tones - nasal quality, pitch, resonance, volume
phonology - how sounds are combined and changed in a language
to alter word meaning
morphology - rules that explain the bits and pieces of the language
that form plurals, tenses and part of speech
syntax - word order
semantics -content and meaning given to language sounds
pragmatics - social context
Signs of a possible speech impairment
Makes consistent, age-inappropriate articulation
Frequent repetitions, interruptions or prolongations
in the flow of speech
Has poor voice qualities in pitch or production
Uses voice volume that is consistently inappropriate
Signs of a possible language impairment
Has an inadequate vocabulary for age or development
Seems unable to convey messages or get points across
Appears to have trouble verbalizing / expressing
Is unable to follow oral directions
Unable to match letters with sounds when learning
|Articulation Impairments = 47%
||Langauge Impairments = 47%
|Vocal problems (pitch, loudness, quality)
||Stuttering (dysfluency) = 2%
Is the acquisition of language cultural?
How do children learn to speak?
Who teaches children the five kinds of language rules?
Do animals communicate?
Do they use language?
Helping the beginning learner aquire sounds
This is a chart of speech
Click here to
see a discussion showing the way children develop sounds and language.
You may want to see a language
evaluation of toddler speech.
Read a few of the links that follow. When finished, list
some of the things you feel may contribute to communication disorders.
[15 points each-- 5 for locating a link, 10 more for reading and personally
considering each one].
Tips and Strategies
Meeting Student Needs and Promoting Communication and Personal
|Student refuses to speak in front of
Student - to be soothed - Safety - or in some situations, control
|Increase the level of comfort and safety
for the student and begin slowly - first talking with a
buddy, and when ready, sharing with a group. Do not force a presentation.
|Student stutters when talking
Student - fluency
|Refer for speech assistance. Do not
allow anyone to call attention to the stuttering or make fun of
the youngster. Ask the therapist to give most recent research
on supporting the student's progress.
|Student raises hand and talks off the subject during
instructional question and answer time
||Student - may have problem with pragmatics, need
for attention, need for control
||Work to determine the reason for inappropriate responses.
The student may not realize that when s/he is not talking, thinking
and being is still occurring, may not pick up social context,
may have issues with impulse control, may not be hearing, or organizing
the content or context.
Fill in the next three cell rows, using the ideas you
gain from experience, from materials in the text and in your web searches.
Identify a likely student communication pattern that may hamper learning
and then go through the process of defining needs, then finding a
solution that allows everyone to get needs met [25 points have been
allotted for this activity].
Delays in language development and communication skills
often provide early alerts to other types of developmental delays.
This chart provides an overview of common types of language impairment
and conditions that are consistent with patterns of difficulties (adapted
from Owens, R. E. (1995). Language disorders: A functional approach
to assessment and intervention.)
||Use of Symbols
|Traumatic Brain Injury
Presented by Jill Stedman
Student at NAU
Chapter 8 – Students with Communication Problems Twenty-four
million Americans struggle to communicate everyday. Communication
problems can affect children and adults, however it affects them
differently. There are two different ways a person can be affected,
either through language or speech. To get a better understanding
of what the problems are and how it affects people, we must get
a better understanding of what speech and language are.
Language is defined as a system of symbols communities use to
represent their environment, thoughts and emotions. While speech
is the physical process involved in producing the sound and sound
combinations of a language. So we see that speech and sound are
interconnected in a way. Without one you can’t have the other.
So lets look at why people have communication problems, what they
are and how to help them fix them.
There are two main language disorders that stem from different
things. A person will either have aphasia or a developmental language
disorder. Those with the aphasia are usually older and have already
mastered the language. They become impaired after some sort of
traumatic accident where severe trauma affected the brain. This
could be a head injury or a stroke or tumor. While the developmental
language disorder is usually a child that was born with some sort
of brain damage.
As teachers we will be dealing more with noticing and finding
treatment for developmental problems. It usually is noticeable
between the ages of 12 months to 6 years for those children with
a developmental disorder. While we can’t usually find the cause
of the deficiency, usually the child’s language difficulty can
be characterized into one of a few groups. These are hearing problems,
conceptual knowledge, cognitive processes, knowledge of language
rules, comprehension of language, production and retrieval of
language, communicative functioning or motor skills. These can
be assessed by a speech pathologist and work with that trainer
to overcome their difficulties.
Teachers and parents can also help in the process by supporting
the child and watching the child to see if anything seems particularly
hard for that child while at home or in the classroom. There are
a lot more types of speech disorders than there are language disorders.
Children (and adults) can have articulation disorders, a voice
disorder, or a fluency disorder. Each one of these has its own
causes and “’cures”, although not every child may completely overcome
Articulation disorders can show up in four different forms.
Substitution is when a replacement sound is added to a word. This
happens when a “w” is used instead of an “r” in rabbit. Omission
is when a sound is left out altogether. This happens when the
“r” is completely left out and is the word is spoken abbit . Distortion
is when a sound not from our language is used, such as the “s”
sound that Daffy Duck uses. Last there is Addition, when a sound
is added to a word that isn’t supposed to be there such as “atpple”
for apple. These can be caused by either something organic or
it can be functional.
Functional problems do not have a known cause; it only appears
that it is a result of improper learning. Such things as short
auditory memory span or phonetic discrimination could also play
a part in a child’s ability to communicate correctly. Functional
disorders can usually be completely cured. Organic problems do
have actual causes. The two most common causes are cleft palate
and cerebral palsy. There are surgeries that a person can have
with cleft palate to fix some of the physical disorder, but those
with cleft palate will most likely always have some sort of speech
disorder during their lives. Those that do have these problems
can be worked with to help make it easier to communicate with
There are a series of test with which they perform to come up
with the proper way to help treat such disorders. The tests (assessments)
are the articulation test, spontaneous speech sample, stimulability,
and phonological process analysis. All of these assessments test
different things and help to better narrow down the child’s (or
adults) exact problem. A person with this sort of articulation
disorder can go into therapy to learn how to correctly speak,
although they will probably always struggle in their life to communicate
The next kind of disorder with speech that a teacher must be
aware of is problems with the voice. Children with these types
of problems probably struggle with emotionally with something.
There are three main types of voice disorders to look for. They
are pitch disorders, loudness disorders and voice quality defects.
These can usually be overcome, but how long it takes depends on
the arrangement for treatment. There are many doctors that must
be involved along with the parents and teachers to help the child
to change the way that their voice sounds. Parents and teachers
must be very careful when dealing with voice disorders, it is
important that it is figure out whether there is a degenerative
disease or not before they begin any vocal rehabilitation.
The last problems that people with speech disorders face are
with fluency. There are many types of disfluency that a person
can struggle with; stuttering (the most common), developmental
disfluency, neurogenic disfluency, psychogenic disfluencies, and
language delays. There are many types of treatment for these disorders,
but generally a speech pathologist and the parents work together
to figure out the best way to attack the disorder. With stuttering
it is important that treatment begin right away so that it won’t
make a huge impact on the educational development of the child.
Those children that show emotionally based disfluencies (psychogenic
disfluencies) are usually directed to a counselor or a psychiatrist
of some sort so the child can deal with his/her emotions.
All of these communication difficulties can affect a child’s
school and social life. With a child in a classroom all day it
is imperative that they be able to understand everything that
is going on and that they be able to appropriately respond to
learning. Some of these disorders can have a harsh effect on the
learning process. That is why it is so important that the child
be appropriately pointed in the right direction as soon as possible.
If the child doesn’t get the right treatment then it could affect
his/her adult life.
Ewing, Susan Adair, & Pfalzgraf, Beth. (1990). Pathways.
Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press. The authors, two speech-language
pathologists, share incidents of six families who cope with stroke and
Hodgins, Eric (1964). Episode: Report on the accident
inside my skull. New York: Atheneum. The author experienced aphasia
and other sequelae following a stroke. This book describes his depression
and frustration with various treatments.
Jezer, M. (1997). Stuttering: A life bound up in words.
New York: Basic Books. The author never achieved fluency, despite numerous
courses of treatment. His memoir tells of his experiences including
his successes in professional and personal life.
Johnson, Fred K. (1990) Right hemisphere stroke.
Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press (1990). The author discusses
personality changes and disorientation and also considers the possibility
that some language functions are based in the right hemisphere.
Knox, David R. (1985). Portrait of aphasia. Detroit,
MI: Wayne State University Press. Knox writes of his wife's aphasia,
treatment, and recovery including a detailed account of emotional and
Luria, A. R. (1972). The man with a shattered world.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. The author shares the efforts
of a brain-injured soldier, Zasetsky, to overcome impairments of memory,
vision, speaking, reading, and writing.
McBride, Carmen. (1969). Silent victory. Chicago:
Nelson-Hall. The narrative of a person with aphasia.
Moss, C. Scott. (1972). Recovery from aphasia: The
aftermath of my stroke. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.
A personal account of aphasia and the recovery process.
Wulf, Helen Harlan. (1973) Aphasia, my world alone.
Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press. Wulf gives a vivid account
of her recovery from aphasia, including frustrations and victories.
Speech-language treatment and clinicians figure prominently in her recovery.
Movies and Videos
Long Journey Back
World according to Garp
A Fish called Wanda
1. Read one of the books listed and make a list of ideas
you might want to try in your classroom [50 pts].
2. Read some of the ideas about Ebonics and write a short
essay giving your position and justification for it. You may want to
address questions like: Is it a language or a dialect? Does it have
a central place in our society or is it marginalized? Is it an urban,
rural or wide ranging phenomenon? Should a teacher who is not African-American
teach it? How does this issue compare to Creole in the South? What about
French and the feelings about language in Canada? [25 points]
3. Make a developmental time line, showing normal acquisition
of language.[50 points]
4. Learn about facilitated communications. Try to find
an opportunity to watch someone use this with a child. After looking
at the pros and cons, develop a paragraph stating your personal feelings
about the technique and its usefulness. [25 points]
5. Identify three commonly held fallacies about autism
and then provide three fact based beliefs about people with a communication
disorder. [15 points]
6. Locate and review one of the diagnostic instruments
used to evaluate youngsters who may have communication disorders. In
general, do you expect students to score in a wide range of intellectual
abilities, or will more students score at or below average intelligence?
7. Discuss the difference between communication disorders
and ESL. Are there different approaches to increasing language facility?
Discuss in detail for 50 points.
8. Remember to feel free to develop your own personal
response to the material. Allot yourself approximately 25 points per
hour for your work.
You should now:
Go back to Characteristics
E-mail J'Anne Ellsworth at Janne.Ellsworth@nau.edu
Course developed by J'Anne
Copyright © 1999
Northern Arizona University
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED