Terms commonly used to diagnose a speech or language
Acquired Brain Injury (ABI): An
accident or trauma that causes injury to the brain. Acquired
Brain Injury can also be called a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
and it may be caused by penetrating injuries, such as in a
car accident, or a Closed Head Injury (CBI) when the brain
is damaged but there is no outward sign of trauma. The
nature of the speech and language disorder depends on the
type and extent of the injury.
Aphasia: Childhood or
developmental aphasia is a disorder characterized by
difficulty learning language in the absence of mental
deficiency, sensory and physical deficits, severe emotional
disturbances, environmental factors, or brain damage.
Currently, these children are more likely referred to as
language impaired, language disordered, or language
Apraxia: Verbal Apraxia is a
disorder of articulation characterized by difficulty with
sequencing and organizing motor or muscle movements
specifically for the production of speech. It may also be
described as the impaired ability to motor-plan. Muscle
weakness is not associated with Apraxia. This is part of the
group of disorders often referred to as Motor Speech
Articulation: The movement of
mouth, lips, tongue, voice box, etc (called the
'articulators') to produce speech sounds. Poor or incorrect
articulation may be due to problems with the position,
timing, direction, pressure, speed, or integration of the
movement of lips, tongue, or other articulators. This also
refers to the clarity of sounds in speech.
Autism: see Pervasive
Central Auditory Processing: Central auditory processing
involves the analysis of sound, which occurs in the brain (ie.
beyond the inner ear). Children with central auditory
processing disorders have normal hearing in the usual sense.
However, difficulty with central auditory processing will
affect the ability to process, or make sense of, the sounds
they hear. In the educational setting, the term "central
auditory processing disorder" is a general one used to
describe children who have difficulty listening in the
Cleft Lip and/or Palate: A
disorder of the musculo-skeletal system where bone and
muscle tissues do not fuse during the pre-natal period,
causing a cleft in the lip and/or palate (ie. arch of the
mouth). This may interfere with feeding and speech
Developmental Delay or Disability:
A term used generically to refer to children whose
development is delayed compared with their age peers. In
education, the term refers to a severe learning disorder
characterized by limited intellectual development and
limited potential for academic learning. In the education
setting, children may be identified with a "developmental
disability" using the Ministry of Education Categories and
Definitions of Exceptionalities.
communication of thought sequences; continuous expression or
exchange of ideas.
Dysarthria: Dysarthria is
diagnosed when the child has problems with making speech
sounds (one of the motor speech disorders) because of muscle
paralysis, muscle weakness or poor co-ordination which
results from a neourological impairment, such as cerebral
palsy or acquired brain injury. The result may be distorted,
substituted or omitted sounds.
Dysfluency: Dysfluency, also
known as stuttering, is an interruption in the smooth, easy
flow of speech. Examples include repetitions, prolongations,
interjections, and silent pauses. Other movements may become
associated with the speech disruptions and are referred to
as 'secondary characteristics, such as facial grimacing,
head movements, or hand movements.
Dysphagia: A disturbance in the
normal act of swallowing.
Elective Mutism: Elective
mutism refers to children who can use speech to communicate
but do so only with selected people in certain environments.
These children usually speak only to immediate family. Some
elective mutes may speak to extended family or neighbourhood
children and be primarily mute at school.
Hearing Impairment: A full or
partial loss of the ability to detect sounds. The inability
to hear sounds, or distinguish among different sounds, will
result in problems with speech and language development.
'Deafness' is the traditional term used to describe loss of
hearing, but 'hearing impairment' is the preferred term that
encompasses the fact there are different degrees of hearing
These terms are used interchangeably to refer to a disorder
characterized by a problem in the understanding and/or use
of oral or written language (listening, speaking, reading,
writing). Within education, children may be identified
"language impaired" using the Ministry of Education
Categories and Definitions of Exceptionalities.
Learning Disability: A learning
disorder that involves problems in the understanding and use
of the symbols of communication (including listening,
speaking, reading, writing, mathematics). There is typically
a significant difference between academic achievement and
intellectual ability. Within education, children may be
identified with a "learning disability" using Ministry of
Education Categories and Definitions of Exceptionalities.
rder characterized by limited intellectual development and
Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD):
PDD is a generic term referring to a group of disorders that
are characterized by : impairments in social interaction,
impairment in verbal and nonverbal communication, and a
restrictive, stereotypic pattern of behaviours. There is
considerable variability in symptoms among individuals with
PDD and considerable variability in the severity of these
symptoms. There are a variety of disorders that fall under
this category (including Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, Rett's
Phonological Disorder: Child
has difficulty with the development of speech sounds and the
rules for the sound system.
Semantic-pragmatic disorder (ie. language meaning and
language use difficulties) is sometimes used to describe
those children who demonstrate language difficulties similar
to autism/PDD () without the non-verbal social and
behavioural characteristics typical of autism/PDD.
Stuttering: see Dysfluency
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI):
An assault on the brain that causes mild to severe injury.
The two types of traumatic brain injury are penetrating
injuries and closed head injuries (CBI). The nature of the
speech and language disorder depends on the type and extent
of the injury.
Voice Disorder: Voice disorders
include abnormalities in the pitch (too high/too low),
quality (hoarse/breathy, tight/harsh), loudness
(inadequate/too loud), or resonance (hyponasal, such as when
you have a cold, or hypernasal, when there is too much sound
coming through the nose) of the voice.
Unintelligible Speech: Speech
that cannot to some degree be understood by the listener.
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