Definition of Communication Disorder:
From the DSM-5:
‘The communication disorders include language disorder, speech sound disorder, social (pragmatic) communication disorder, and childhood-onset fluency disorder (stuttering). The first three disorders are characterized by deficits in the development and use of language, speech, and social communication, respectively. Childhood-onset fluency disorder is characterized by disturbances of the normal fluency and motor production of speech, including repetitive sounds or syllables, prolongation of consonants or vowel sounds, broken words, blocking, or words produced with an excess of physical tension. Like other neurodevelopmental disorders, communication disorders begin early in life and may produce lifelong functional impairments.’
Types of Communication Disorders:
From the DSM-5:
Language Disorder: ‘The core diagnostic features of language disorder are difficulties in the acquisition and use of language due to deficits in the comprehension or production of vocabulary, sentence structure, and discourse. The language deficits are evident in spoken communication, written communication, or sign language. Language learning and use is dependent on both receptive and expressive skills. Expressive ability refers to the production of vocal, gestural, or verbal signals, while receptive ability refers to the process of receiving and comprehending language messages. Language skills need to be assessed in both expressive and receptive modalities as these may differ in severity. For example, an individual’s expressive language may be severely impaired, while his receptive language is hardly impaired at all.’
Speech Sound Disorder: ‘Speech sound production describes the clear articulation of the phonemes (i.e., individual sounds) that in combination make up spoken words. Speech sound production requires both phonological knowledge of speech sounds and the ability to coordinate the movements of the articulators (i.e., the jaw, tongue, and lips,) with breathing and vocalizing for speech. Children with speech production difficulties may experience difficulty with phonological knowledge of speech sounds or the ability to coordinate movements for speech in varying degrees. Speech sound disorder is thus heterogeneous in its underlying mechanisms and includes phonological disorder and articulation disorder. A speech sound disorder is diagnosed when speech sound production is not what would be expected based on the child’s age and developmental stage and when the deficits are not the result of a physical, structural, neurological, or hearing impairment. Among typically developing children at age 4 years, overall speech should be illegible, whereas at age 2 years, only 50% may be understandable.’
Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder: ‘Social (pragmatic) communication disorder is characterized by a primary difficulty with pragmatics, or the social use of language and communication, as manifested by deficits in understanding and following social rules of verbal and nonverbal communications in naturalistic contexts, changing language according to the needs of the listener or situation, and following rules for conversations and storytelling. The deficits in social communication result in functional limitations in effective communication, social participation, development of social relationships, academic achievement, or occupational performance. The deficits are not better explained by low abilities in the domains of structural language or cognitive ability.’
Childhood-onset Fluency Disorder (Stuttering): ‘The essential feature of childhood-onset fluency disorder (stuttering) is a disturbance in the normal fluency and time patterning of speech that is inappropriate for the individual’s age. This disturbance is characterized by frequent repetitions or prolongations of sounds or syllables and by other types of speech dysfluencies, including broken words (e.g., pauses within a word), audible or silent blocking (i.e., filled or unfilled pauses in speech), circumlocutions (i.e., word substitutions to avoid problematic words), words produced with an excess of physical tension, and monosyllabic whole-word repetitions. The disturbance in fluency interferes with academic or occupational achievement or with social communication. The extent of the disturbance varies from situation to situation and often is more severe when there is special pressure to communicate (e.g., giving a report at school, interviewing for a job). Dysfluency is often absent during oral reading, singing, or talking to inanimate objects or to pets.’
American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Neurodevelopmental Disorders (31, 41-49). Arlington, VA, American Psychiatric Association, 2013.
Disclaimer: Due to the nature of this post, this information is meant to be inform and not serve as a diagnosis for communication disorders. If you believe you or someone you know need help in regards to a communication disorder, please seek out a doctor or professional for a proper diagnosis.