Alalia: symptoms, causes and treatment

Have you ever heard of Alalia? It is a language disorder that affects speech. Specifically, alaila involves partial or complete inability to communicate by oral expression.

People who suffer from it usually develop good skills to express their ideas in writing, as this is usually their only source of communication.

    Alalia: What is it?

    Etymologically, the word “Alaila” comes from the Greek and means “stupid”, but it is important to note that the fact that suffering Alalia does not involve other alterations at the intellectual level or other senses like the ear. This is why people who suffer from it usually have good written communication skills.

    Here we will see what Alalia consists of, the characteristics of this alteration, the causes that can produce it, and finally the treatments for Alalia.


    There are different parameters that can indicate that a person is or may be suffering from Alalia.

    People with Alalia are called alálicos and are usually young children. The first sign that a person suffers from Alalia is if that child does not follow a developmental trend according to his age group..

    At around 12 months, the first words usually start to be spoken. If after 12 months the child does not speak, but does not say goodbye or show objects or people, in principle, there is no cause for concern.

    Between 15 and 18 months, if there is a critical point of a delay in speech if they can say neither the word “mom” nor the word “father”, if they do not interact when they are greeted or returned with a “hello” or “goodbye”, or if they use many gestures during the speech. A factor of normality of the development of the language to consider would be have a vocabulary of 2 to 5 words at 12 months and approximately 15 words at 18 months.

    On the other hand, another sign of delayed speech is the inability to produce words and sentences spontaneously between the ages of 2 and 4, as well as the inability to follow simple instructions and commands, as well as when can. correctly. Finally, another sign of delay in speech would be the inability to create simple sentences of 2 or 3 words, in the age range.

    It is important to bear in mind that there are features that are also prevalent in other pathologies, and therefore it is important not to make a mistake in the diagnosis. Alallic individuals present a picture similar to that of mental retardation. however, allelic patients have good relationships, are easily guided, and understand mime and gestures. It should be noted that any language pathology can be present in people with normal intelligence but in people with special educational needs.

    the causes

    Delay, impaired or even loss of language can be caused by a physical rupture of the oral area while it is still forming, or just after birth. Therefore, the child may be slow to shape the mouth and tongue to form words.

    However, there are several causes, some of which are non-physical, that can cause Alalia:

    • Trauma during the prenatal period (before birth)
    • Perinatal trauma (immediately before or after birth)
    • poisoning
    • Pathological lengthening of working hours.
    • Difficult parts with mechanical assistance
    • Hearing loss
    • Viral and infectious diseases
    • Brain trauma in the postnatal period (after birth).

    Each of these causes together or separately they can lead to the appearance of an injury in the central areas of the tongue, Which would lead to the appearance of Alalia.

      Types of alalia

      There are two types of Alalia. Depending on its origin, it is classified as follows:

      1. Alalia engine

      The Alalia engine is the one that is characterized by damage to the frontal parietal area, Thus breaking its functions. This leads to a problem of coordination and balance.

      This leads to difficulty in understanding words. So eventually, people replace words with similarities of sounds, because they have difficulty repeating complex words. If not, that’s it can lead to stuttering.

      In the milder cases of motor alalia, communication in short sentences is common. In the more severe forms, there is usually only onomatopoeia in oral communication, accompanied by facial expressions and gestures.

        2. Sensory alalia

        Sensorial Alalia is a little more complex and more serious. Patients who suffer from it they do not perceive well or understand speech, which ultimately triggers the inability to speak.

        In these cases, a specific area of ​​the cerebral cortex is affected, and at this stage, patients do not speak because the words are incomprehensible to them.

        In summary, people affected by Sensory Alalia are unable to associate words with objects and usually communicate only with facial expressions and gestures. In many cases, these patients are misdiagnosed as deaf people.This is why it is essential to have an unequivocal diagnosis.


        The treatment and therapies needed depend on the degree of Alalia, the cause and the severity. First, speech therapy is the most effective and common form of intervention.

        On the other hand, there are more specific therapies, intended for children who suffer from Alalia due to physical deformities. One of these therapies is called myofunctional therapy (TMP), which focuses on correcting the imbalance in the facial muscles. This help is usually given by speech therapists.

        Other suitable routines would include reading to children regularly, asking questions in plain, plain language, as well as suggesting the use of specific textures in foods to exercise and strengthen jaw muscles, while developing new movements. The jaw during chewing.

        Another appropriate guideline is to read them to patients affected by Alalia, And also ask questions in simple, clear language. In addition, it is important to suggest the use and introduction of different food textures to exercise and strengthen the jaw muscles, as new jaw movements develop during chewing. Finally, another less common technique is to use music as speech therapy and thus promote and facilitate the development of speech and language.

        Finally, it should be noted that therapy must take into account the nucleus and family contextThere must therefore be communication and joint work with the patient’s immediate environment, and thus positively promote the growth of oral language and vocabulary. In all cases, the timely intervention of the speech-language pathologist will increase the patient’s success and improvement rate.

        Bibliographical references:

        • American Psychiatric Association (2016). DSM-5. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Pan American Medical Editorial.
        • Calavia-Train, J. (2014). State of the art: speech disorders in the early years of age. UNITE.
        • Chernousova, L. (2008). The conception of serious communication disorders. LIGHT, Educating from science, 7 (1).

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