Communication Disorder (Comprehensive Guide)

In this blog, we will look at Communication Disorders as a whole, their types, and in what categories they lie.

We will briefly discuss how frequently occur among the population, how it is caused, and how to deal with and diagnose it.

A communication disorder is an inability to receive, send, and comprehend language with the help of which two people can interact.

The communication between two people may be ineffective due to either hearing, language or speech problems.

It can range from mild to severe level. It may be developmental, which means that it develops with time, or it may be acquired, i.e., since birth. 

Types of Communication Disorders 

Speech Disorders 

It is the impairment of articulation of sounds, frequency, and voice, each of which is further discussed below. 

  1. Articulation Disorder is difficulty in producing specific types of speech sounds. It often involves slurring of speech. However, it can be treated with the help of Speech Therapy. 
  2. Fluency Disorder is a disturbance in the flow of speaking. It includes abnormal rate, rhythm, sound prolongations, along with the repetition of syllables, words, and phrases.
  3. Voice Disorder is atypical production or even the absence of vocal quality, pitch, loudness, etc. It is a medical condition, and the quality of sound produced by the larynx affects speech production. 

Language Disorders 

It is an impairment that makes it hard to find the right words and to form clear sentences. It includes the following. 

  1. Form of Language includes 
  1. Phonology is the sound system of a particular language along with the rules to use the sound combinations in order to make different words. 
  2. Morphology is the system that forms the structure of words. 
  3. The syntax is the system that focuses on a combination of words to form sentences. 
  4. Content of Language includes 
  5. Semantics which is the systems that include the meanings of different words and sentences. 
  6. The function of Language includes 
  7. Pragmatics is the system that combines the language components mentioned above into socially appropriate communication. 

Hearing Disorder 

It is the result of abnormal auditory sensitivity of the auditory system.

Due to this, the development, comprehension, production and maintenance, and even production of speech become limited. 

  1. Deafness is a hearing disorder where the individual’s auditory system stops to perform its functions. 
  2. Hard of hearing is another term that is used to describe either permanent or fluctuating hearing problems. These are the people that use hearing aids. 

FIVE Major Categories of Communication Disorders 

Communication Disorders, in order to be treated effectively, need to be identified at an early age.

They are usually contracted via injuries or during the development phase during childhood.

There are five major categories in which most, if not all Communication disorders lie.


It is the persistent difficulty in the use of language across all forms like spoken, written, sign language, etc.

This is usually due to defecates in comprehension or production. This means that the person has a limited vocabulary, limited ability to form sentences, and limited capacity to use language to communicate relative to what is expected for one’s age.


It is the difficulty in producing different sounds or words properly. It includes both the phonological knowledge along with the ability to move the jaw, tongue, and lips in a coordinated manner.

Children with speech sound disorder may have difficulty with phonological knowledge of speech sounds or the ability to coordinate the movements necessary for speech. 

Childhood-onset fluency disorder

It is a communication disorder characterized by a blockage in the flow and timing of speech that is inappropriate for an individual’s age.

It is also known as stuttering.

This condition includes the repetition or prolongation of speech sounds, hesitations before and during speaking, long pauses in speech, effortful speech, and/or monosyllabic whole-word repetitions. 

Social (pragmatic) communication disorder

It is characterized by difficulty with the use of social language and communication skills.

A child or teen with this disorder will struggle in following the ordinary social rules of communication following the rules for storytelling or conversations and changing language depending upon the situation or needs of the listener.

Unspecified communication disorder

It includes the people that have symptoms of a communication disorder but who do not meet all criteria and whose symptoms cause anxiety and distress or impairment.

How common are communication disorders?

According to studies, more than 7% of American children are faced with the struggle of a speech or swallowing disorder.

That is a staggering one in every twelve children who are suffering from a speech and or swallowing impediment.

If we are to factor in adults to the equation, we can easily the number rising much higher.

The direct cause can be psycho-speech behavioral issues, muscular disorders, or even brain damage, regardless, most if not all SPL’s fall into just 10 common categories.

Apraxia of speech

This is when the neural pathway between the brain and parts of it associated with speech is either damaged or obscured.

The sufferer can know what they want to communicate, they can write it as well as think it, but when it comes to articulating words for it the neural pathway does not work and so they cannot utilize their speech muscles for the articulation of said words, even though the muscles themselves may be working just fine.

Stuttering or Stammering

Stuttering, also referred to at times as stammering, is quite common.

Nearly everyone can imagine what it sounds like, looks like, most must’ve heard it and many of us will have probably experienced it ourselves at multiple instances of our lives.

The national institute of deafness and other communication disorders estimates that nearly three million Americans stutter.

Reports suggest that nearly three-quarters of the children who are found to be stuttering will grow out of it with age.

Stuttering is not to be confused with cluttering.


This is a condition related to the damaging of muscles directly involved in the act of articulating words and speech.

It will result in speech that is slurred, slowed down, tonally inaccurate, or audibly abnormal.

There is not much that can be done to treat much less cure Dysarthria.


Lisping is quite common. It is a well-known word, and most are aware of the usually ‘th’ sound a person makes while trying to voice the ‘s’ sound.

This is due to the tongue reaching farther than they intended or touching the front of the teeth.

SLP’s are very good for correcting lisp and in most cases, are completely eradicated.

Spasmodic Dysphonia

(SD) is a chronic long-term disorder that is recognized by the spasming of the patient’s vocal muscles, which results in a jittery voice with highly variable levels of emphasis.


Cluttering is when the speech is either too shaky or too rapid or both at alternating times.

For cluttering to be diagnosed, the patient must also excessively be using ‘the’ ‘umm’ ‘so’ ‘hmm’ ‘like’ a lot.

Other types are;

What are the causes of Communication Disorder

Communication disorders can occur because of hearing loss, which is the damage to the ear or its internal structure.

It can also occur due to brain injury, where the sections of the brain that interpret language get damaged, e.g., Broca’s area is responsible for spoken language.

However, the damage to this area can cause the inability to understand language and speak.

It can also be caused by a Vocal Cord Injury because the production of voice takes place here.

Hence damage to this area can cause an inability to speak. 

How To Treat Communication Disorder

The treatment of communication disorders focuses on the cause. The best treatment is prevention and early interventions.

It is the duty of the parents to be aware of the age their children should start speaking.

However, if the child does not do so, they must talk to a doctor and opt for Speech Therapy at a very early stage. 

Some Useful Resources


Autism is a psychological disease that limits the person from processing the language and makes it difficult for him to communicate with his peers.

An intellectual disability can also cause a communication problem.

Drug Abuse usually causes slurred speech, which is not understandable by the other person.

Hence the communication does not take place properly. Physical impairments, for example, cleft lip, can also make it very hard for a person to communicate properly. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What are the different types of communication disorders?

There are four main types:

Language Disorder

In which the child will have difficulty speaking, reading, writing, and or find any task involving the use and articulation of language complex or undoable.

Speech Sound Disorder

Wherein the patient suffering from the impediment will have trouble producing a different sound and will have difficulty communicating his or her choice of words clearly and appropriately.

Child Onset Disorder 

This is when the child will have trouble becoming fluent in forming sentences.

Those who suffer from this type of speech disorder will tend to stutter wherein they repeat similar speech patterns or get stuck on them unable to move on until the stutter is finished.

Social Communication Disorder

In this type of communication disorder, patients lack the ability to pick up social language involving social ques and a general understanding of ‘how things work around here’ situations.

Patients will have trouble blending into society due to this condition.

Q2. What percentage of the population has a communication disorder? 

The data indicate that of 7.7 percent of children with a communication or swallowing disorder, 5%  have speech problems, 3.3 percent have language problems, 1.4 percent have voice difficulties, and 0.9 percent have swallowing difficulties. 

Q3. What are the causes of Communication Disorders?

There can be a number of causes to get communication disorders.

Any illness or injury which causes some kind of abnormality in the way a person communicates information or their ability to perceive, comprehend, and process information obtained from external sources can be deemed a communication disorder. Some of the most notable causes are:

– hearing loss

– neurological disorders

– brain injury

– vocal cord injury

– autism

– intellectual disability

– drug abuse

– physical impairments such as cleft lip or palate 

Q4. Is autism a communication disorder?

No, autism is not a communication disorder; in fact,  it is a developmental disability that can also lead to social, communication and behavioral problems.

Autism affects the brain in a way that is quite different than an average communication disorder or disability.

Q5. What are the symptoms of communication disorders?

– Stuttering – struggle to produce a sound or say a word

– Expressive Aphasia – Speaking in short continuous phrases 

– Global Aphasia – Struggling with the sue of words 

– Apraxia – Difficulty in copying sounds 

– Dysarthria – Slurred Speech 

Q6. What are the five broad categories of communication disorders?


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