Children with Communication Disorders
The ability to communicate with others is critical to a young child's development and it is a prerequisite to academic learning, yet some children have disorders that interfere with various aspects of their abilities to communicate. This digest discusses various types of communication disorders, their incidence, the learning difficulties associated with them, the special case of English language learners, and the educational significance of communication disorders.
What is a Communication Disorder?
Children with communication disorders have deficits in their ability to exchange information with others. A communication disorder may occur in the realm of language, speech and/or hearing. Language difficulties include spoken language, reading and/or writing difficulties. Speech encompasses such areas as articulation and phonology (the ability to speak clearly and be intelligible), fluency (stuttering), and voice. Hearing difficulties may also encompass speech problems (e.g., articulation or voice) and/or language problems. Hearing impairments include deafness and hearing loss, which can result from a conductive loss, a sensorineural loss, a mixed loss, or a central hearing loss.
Communication disorders may result from many different conditions. For example, language-based learning disabilities are the result of a difference in brain structure present at birth. This particular difficulty may be genetically based. Other communication disorders stem from oral-motor difficulties (e.g., an apraxia or dysarthia of speech), aphasias (difficulties resulting from a stroke which may involve motor, speech and/or language problems), traumatic brain injuries, and stuttering, which is now believed to be a neurological deficit. The most common conditions that affect children's communication include language-based learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, cerebral palsy, mental disabilities, cleft lip or palate, and autism spectrum disorders.
Reprinted with the permission of the Education Resources Information Center.
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