Overview – Neurodevelopmental Disorder – Communication
A communication disorder is any disorder that affects an individual’s ability to comprehend, detect, or apply language and speech to engage in discourse effectively with others. The delays can range from simple sound substitution to the inability to understand or use one’s native language. The Neurodevelopmental Disorder in communication, is characterized by deficits in the development and use of language, speech, and social communication. Like other neurodevelopmental disorders, communication disorder begins early in life and may produce lifelong functional impairments. It is estimated that nearly one in ten American children has some type of communication disorder.
Some causes of communication disorder include hearing loss, other neurological conditions, brain injury, vocal cord injury, autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disorder, drug abuse, physical impairments such as cleft lip or palate, emotional or psychiatric problem, and developmental disorders. Although research continues, frequently, the cause of a communication disorder is unknown. The DSM-5 generally separates distinct medical and neurological conditions from a communication disorders.
According to the book Speech and Language Disorders in Children, language competence involves two main elements—production or “the ability to encode one’s ideas into language forms and symbols,” and comprehension, “the ability to understand the meanings that others have expressed using language.”
Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Communication presents information on four types of communication disorders, one type each day for four days. These are:
A Language Disorder is a Neurodevelopment Disorder in Communication. It is characterized by impairments in the processing of linguistic information. Problems that may be experienced can involve grammar, semantics, or other aspects of language. These problems may be receptive, expressive, or a combination of both. This category includes expressive, receptive, and mixed receptive-expressive language problems. They are characterized by persistent difficulties in the acquisition and use of language across modalities (i.e., spoken, written, sign language, or other) due to deficits in comprehension or production.
Research indicates that the first 6 months of life are the most crucial to a child’s development of language skills. This underpins the importance of: “talk, talk, talk, sing, sing, sing, read, read, read aloud” to infants and toddlers from birth onward. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the first three years of life when the brain is developing rapidly, is the most intensive period for acquiring speech and language skills.
Speech Sound Disorder
A Speech Sound Disorder is a Neurodevelopment Disorder in Communication. It is characterized by a condition in which some speech sounds in a child’s language are not produced correctly, are not used correctly, or not produced at all. The term “protracted phonological development” is sometimes preferred when describing children’s speech, to emphasize the continuing development while acknowledging the delay.
In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a perceptually distinct unit of sound that can distinguish one word from another in a specific language. For example: p, b, d, and t in the English words pad, pat, bad, and bat. The substitution of a different sound (phoneme) can completely change the word and its meaning. For example:
- pad becomes fad or lad
- pat becomes hat or bat
- bad becomes tad or sad
- bat becomes rat or sat or tat or mat or vat.
Childhood-Onset Fluency Disorder (formerly referred to as stuttering or stammering) is a Neurodevelopment Disorder in Communication. It is characterized by a disruption in the flow of speech. Symptoms of childhood-onset fluency disorder typically develop between the ages of 2 and 7, with 80 to 90 percent of cases developing by age 6. Approximately 95 percent of children who stutter begin to do so before the age of 4 years with the average age of onset at about 33 months.
As a child’s development progresses, typically, a fluency disorder often will disappear. Early intervention and treatment can contribute to this goal. Most children do not continue to exhibit a fluency disorder in adulthood. Estimates are, however, that up to 25 percent of children will carry their fluency disorder into adulthood, especially if early intervention and treatment did not occur.
Social (Pragmatic) Disorder
Social (Pragmatic) Disorder is a Neurodevelopment Disorder in Communication. It is characterized by difficulties with the use of verbal and nonverbal language in a social context. The term “pragmatic” is used by language professionals to describe the communication skills that are needed in normal social situations and the rules that govern routine interpersonal interactions such as: taking turns in conversations, interrupting only when absolutely necessary, paying some attention to the other person in a conversation, matching speech volume to the environment and the listener, etc.
The delay and disorder can range from simple sound substitution to the inability to understand or use one’s native language. The disorder affects an individual’s ability to comprehend, detect, or apply language and speech to engage in discourse effectively with others. This can prevent an individual from communicating effectively, understanding the perspective of others, responding appropriately to verbal and nonverbal social cues, participating in social settings, developing peer relationships, achieving academic success, and performing successfully on the job. Problems begin to show up in early childhood and can cause difficulties in social, academic, and occupational areas. Challenges in these areas cause anxiety and may result in isolation and exclusion from participation in social situations.
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