Understanding Speech Problems
Speech is the behavior of forming and sequencing the sounds of oral language (Hallahan & Kauffman, 2005). One common speech problem is with speech articulation, resulting in the inability to pronounce sounds correctly at and after the developmentally appropriate age. For example, Stacey is in second grade but cannot pronounce the s sound, a sound most students master by age 5. Other speech difficulties involve voice and fluency.
Because communication is social, students with speech disorders, such as stuttering, often experience social problems. Students who can clearly communicate draw positive attention from peer relationships, but students who cannot are often avoided by their peers and sometimes ridiculed. The experience of peer rejection can be devastating, leading to a lack of confidence, a poor self-image, social withdrawal, and emotional problems later in life (Cowen, Pederson, Babijian, Izzo, & Trost, 1973). For example, after years of being ridiculed by peers, Jeffrey, a high school ninth-grader who stutters, speaks infrequently and has no friends. He would like to ask a girl in his math class out but is petrified he will not be able to do so without stuttering.
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