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Understanding Communication Disorders

Communication is the interaction between individuals. It plays a crucial role in the exchange of thoughts and ideas between people. Children are often prone to disorders in communication, which hinders their interaction with others around.

What is ‘communication disorder’?

Communication disorder refers to disorders that affect a person’s comprehension, speech, language and communication. Comprehension refers to the capacity to understand a statement. Speech refers to the sounds that allow individuals to communicate with each other. It includes voice and fluency. Language refers to the words and symbols that are used to convey a message.

According to the National Institute on Deafness other Communication Diseases, 8-9% of children have speech-sound disorder. Communication Disorders can be found even in the adults.

What causes communication disorder?

Communication disorder can occur because of genes or due to some developmental issue pertaining to the brain. The various causes can be listed out as:

  1. Abnormal brain development – Any abnormal development of the brain can lead to a communication disorder.

  2. Exposure to toxins before birth – A child can be born with communication disorder if the mother had been exposed to toxins during her pregnancy.

  3. Genetic factors – Sometimes, genetic factors can lead to communication disorder.

  4. Brain injuries – Injuries to the brain, caused due to accident can also result in communication disorder.

  5. Neurological issues – When the nerves connecting the brain and the organs responsible for communication gets impacted, it can lead to communication disorder.

What are the different types of communication disorders?

1. Speech disorder

Speech disorder affects the way a sound is created. These disorders usually affect the vocal cords, muscles, nerves and parts of the throat. Conditions like ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), autism, oral cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease, etc. can also cause speech disorder.


  1. Some of the symptoms of speech disorder include:

  2. Making jerky movements while talking – A person ends up making jerky movements while talking.

  3. Adding extra sounds and words – Words are often elongated while pronouncing and the person tends to add extra sounds and words while communicating.

  4. Blinking several times while talking – A person with speech disorder tends to blink several times while talking.

  5. Frequent pauses while talking – A person with speech disorder often pauses frequently while talking.


The most common types of speech disorders are:

  1. Stuttering – This is also called stammering. This is a speech disorder where the speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongation of sounds and syllables.

  2. Apraxia – This is a motor speech disorder caused by damage to parts of the brain that deal with speech.

  3. Dysarthria – This is a disorder in which the muscles of the face, mouth or the respiratory system become weak or have difficulty in functioning.

2. Language disorder

This disorder makes it difficult for people to express themselves and understand what is being said to them. This is also as receptive-expressive language disorder. Language disorders make it difficult for a person to read, comprehend or understand words.


Some of the symptoms include:

  1. Wrong order of words – A person with language disorder often ends up using the wrong order of words while communicating.

  2. Inability to have a conversation – Due to their difficulty in understanding words, people with a language disorder often find it difficult to have a conversation.

  3. Inability to connect words and sentences – A person with language disorder finds it difficult to connect words and sentences.

  4. Inability to complete sentences – Due to the limited knowledge of words, a person finds it difficult to complete sentences.


The different types of language disorders are:

  1. Dyslalia – This is a disorder where the person alters or omits certain sounds from the words.

  2. Diglossia – This is a type of language disorder that is caused due to an alteration in the jaw, the lips, the teeth, the lungs or the roof of the mouth.

  3. Dysphemia – This occurs due to an alteration in the tongue and is characterised by spasms and tics, caused due to poor motor skills of the brain.

3. Hearing disorder

This disorder affects the ability to hear. It occurs when one is exposed to a lot of noise. Hearing disorder often renders a person deaf, affecting his/her process of communication.


The symptoms are:

  1. Frequent repetition of words – A person with hearing disorder often tends to repeat his/her words. The person also ends up asking the speaker to repeat himself/herself multiple times.

  2. Inability to hear clearly – People with hearing disorder often tend to hear muffled sounds.

  3. Have a ringing sensation in the ears – A person with hearing disorder tends to have a ringing sensation in his/her ears.

  4. Have difficulty in understanding, especially in large groups – When there is a large group with many talking, a person with hearing disorder finds it difficult to understand the conversation.


The different types of hearing disorders are:

  1. Sensorineural Hearing Loss – This occurs when the hearing organ (called cochlea) and the auditory nerve gets damaged or fails to function properly.

  2. Conductive Hearing Loss – This occurs when there is a problem with the outer or the middle ear. It can be caused due to accumulation of earwax, damage to the eardrum, or due to ear infection.

  3. Auditory processing problems – These problems occur when the brain finds it difficult to process information present in a sound.

Treating Communication Disorder

Communication disorder be treated by the following ways:

  • Speech and Language therapy

This is a process that enables people with communication disorder to communicate in a better way. Speech therapists help train people with communication disorder.

  • Behaviour therapy

This focuses on modifying the behaviour so that a person can enhance his/her interpersonal skills. In case of children, this therapy aims to improve their retention capacity.

  • Changing the environment

Certain changes can be brought in to accommodate a person with communication disorder. Children can be given more time to complete a task.

  • Providing opportunity for interaction

A person with communication disorder will be able to recover only when he/she is given an opportunity to talk and interact with the people around. Instead of alienating them from activities, efforts should be made to include them in every activity.

With proper therapy and treatment, communication disorders can be overcome easily in today’s world.


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