Communication Disorders

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. This month is designed to provide education about common communication disorders and to explain how early intervention is crucial to prevent or effectively treat these disorders.

Language Disorders

When a child’s speech does not properly develop, it can affect every aspect of his or her life. Parents should be aware of important developmental milestones so they will be alerted to any problems. For example, some adults may not realize that babbling is a very important developmental milestone. Around six months of age, babies will babble and produce sounds such as “ba, da, wa.” This babbling is an important step in language development.

But children are not the only ones who have communication disorders. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that as many as 6 to 8 million Americans have some form of language impairment. This includes stuttering, autism, and aphasia.

Following are some of the most common conditions that contribute to language disorders:

Cleft Palate

A cleft palate is the fourth most common birth defect, and it can affect speech and learning. A cleft palate occurs when the two sides of the roof of the mouth do not join during fetal development. Often, children may need speech therapy to help treat any delays and closely monitor development. Corrective surgery or other treatments may be needed.


More than 3 million Americans stutter. While stuttering begins in childhood, it continues throughout life, impacting everyday activities. Health care professionals and speech language pathologists can evaluate the extent of stuttering and develop therapies to help individuals communicate more effectively. It's interesting to note that treatment has helped some of the most famous voices on the planet-- actor James Earl Jones, singer Carly Simon, news correspondent John Stossel and England’s King George VI --overcome challenges caused by stuttering.



Autism affects Americans of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 400,000 individuals in the United States have autism!

Autism Spectrum disorders are a group of developmental disorders that may include difficulties with social interaction, communication, and motor coordination. Symptoms may include:

  • Delayed babbling as infants
  • Difficulty with social interaction or playing social games
  • Difficulty interpreting facial cues
  • Delayed speech


Aphasia occurs when the brain has suffered some type of damage to the area that controls language—typically the left side of the brain. This damage may be caused by:

  • Tumors
  • Neurological disorders
  • Traumatic brain injury

As a result, those with aphasia may have difficulty speaking, reading and communicating.  These challenges may include:

  • Difficulty producing language or coming up with the words needed.
  • Difficulty writing
  • Difficulty understanding language
  • Difficulty putting together sentences and communicating concepts

An estimated 1 million individuals in the United States have aphasia.  


For more information, visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's website or speak with your physician.





National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). (2015). Statistics

on Voice, Speech, and Language 

American Speech-Language-Hearing Associaton. (2015). Cleft Lilp and Cleft Palate

American Speech-Language-Hearing Associaton. (2015). Stuttering.

Famous People Brochure. Stuttering Help. Org

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). (2015). Statistics on Voice, Speech, and Language

Autism Speaks. (2015)  What Are the Symptoms of Autism?

American Speech-Language-Hearing Associaiton. (2015). Aphasia.