Case Study: Language Disorders and Speech Disorders

by Audrey Brown July 01, 2016
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Kuder’s article first describes the differences between speech, language and communication so that it can be understood properly to identify its characteristics and to study it in reference to language disorders. It describes the necessary components of communication to find out the problems in a speech disorder patient. He moves further to present a case study of a nine year old student named Kevin who is good in maths but faces difficulty in words. He tries to write short sentences and produces poorly organized sentences. His teacher Mrs. Ross notices this and feels like helping him but she fails to understand the nature of his problem. Kevin lags behind when he goes to play with his other school friends and it is likely that he would fall in difficulty in pursuing his academic and social life if nothing is done to take care of his problem. According to Kuder, speech is defined as the neuromuscular act of producing sounds which is used in language but not all sounds are necessarily speech sounds in a language. He differentiates speech and language by making his point clear in terms of meaning. If the speech sound is meaningless, it is not language whereas, language is always carried with meaning and understanding. We can have a language without speech for example, sign language for deaf people. But what is common in both the languages is the purpose, the purpose of communicating with others; the purpose of conveying our ideas, thoughts and meaning. So communication is the underlying purpose of any language.


Language is generative and creative; we can create innumerable sentences with some limited set of sounds and words. We speak infinite sentences without repeating the same sentence again, and if we hear someone repeating the sentences spoken by someone else, we think that the person has a disorder called echolalia. Language involves communication which is shared by a community through a rule-governed system.

Language disorders and speech disorders are generally misunderstood by several people, even by the professionals, but they have their pretty clear definitions. Speech disorder is concerned with the speech, with the production of speech sounds where a child or an adult has difficulty in producing speech sounds or particularly some special sounds. Whereas language disorder is concerned, where not only the production, but also the comprehension part is damaged, for example the patients of Wernicke’s aphasia has very weak comprehension though they can produce speech sounds. Generally, these patients produce nonsense speech sounds. Furthermore, the patients of global aphasia or conduction aphasia where both production and comprehension are lost known to be the patients of language disorders. In speech disorder, we see several disorders among which stuttering, stammering and some others have been very common to the researchers and doctors. I would present my own experiences and difficulties in a few lines to understand the problem known as speech disorder. I have been a patient of speech disorder, since childhood; since the time I was not even aware that is it stuttering, stammering or any disorder for that matter. What I knew is I have some problem which makes my speech different from the other children and difficult for other children to utter. I could not utter a few sounds, particularly vowels and when I came into linguistics, I realized what it is after studying all the possible disorders in human speech and language. One thing that I found clear is it is a disorder which cannot be treated by doctors, which cannot be treated in the same way. Every patient needs a special way of being treated and to overcome this problem. I would discuss my disorder now, which came to be as stuttering.

Stuttering is also known as stammering which is a speech disorder in which the continuity of speech sound is disrupted by involuntary prolongations of sounds (Harrison 2008). It is the prolongation of certain sounds, usually vowels and semivowels. This disorder may encompass individuals with mild impediments, but it can be largely cosmetic with others with extremely severe symptoms where it can effectively prevent most oral communication.


I made my case study out of self- interest as I wanted to explore the ways of my own progress, and after studying it what I found is that a speech therapist or a doctor can’t simply predict or announce a general remark or reason of the stuttering. Generally the doctors suggest that the patient tries to hide the problem, and therefore he or she is not able to overcome it. Unlike other problems, it is highly personal and individual. In my own case, my doctor recommends not to hide it but when I come across a stranger, I don’t find any sort of speaking problem because I am sure that he or she doesn’t know about my stuttering, and thus I find myself comfortable enough to let my voice be as normal and as soft as I can, and I also don’t fear of stuttering while facing a stranger.
But this is not the same case with the people who know me well either since my childhood or because of being my closed friend. Thus, as far as my point and my conclusion suggests, speech and language disorders are highly personal problem.


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