Almost everything we do is communicative. Gestures, grimaces, sounds, smells and even distances are and always have been used to know the actions, motives and thoughts of others.
Even the absence of action is indicative of something. However, in addition to the above, the human being has another element to communicate, a symbolic element. This symbolic element it is language, which is expressed orally through speech.
Speech or oral language is one of the most basic means of communication and connection for human beings. This ability develops throughout the life cycle, from uttering simple holophrases or cowardly words with the intention of being able to build elaborations as complex as a Shakespeare play.
However, in many people, the development of this ability or its normal functioning can be delayed or impaired due to several causes. These impairments in oral communication have been studied by sciences such as psychology and medicine, and from them, different types of speech disorders were conceptualized. And no, dyslexia is not one of them, because it only applies to reading problems.
When language fails: speech disorders
Communication is fundamental for human development. And a large part of our ability to communicate depends, as we said, on speech.
however, speech is not something that suddenly appears (While some writers like Noam Chomsky have become famous for arguing that we have innate structures that enable the development of this skill), it needs to be learned and developed. Language in general is a complex element that we will ideally acquire and consolidate throughout our physical and cognitive maturation.
Some of the things we need to learn and improve are articulatory ability, fluency and understanding of speech, vocabulary and the ability to find words, grammar and syntax, And even when and how we have to communicate certain things in a certain way.
Although these milestones are generally acquired at certain evolutionary moments, in certain subjects appear problems, degradations or bad developments of the comprehension and the expression of the language which limit the good functioning and / or the socio-emotional evolution. of the individual.
Here are some of the most common.
1. Language disorder or dysphasia
This disorder involves the presence of a disability in the comprehension and expression of language in children with a level of intelligence specific to their level of development, not only orally, but also in other facets such as written language or reading.
The language disorder or dysphasia may be progressive, in which case it cannot be a consequence of other disorders, or acquired being in the latter case the product of a certain type of stroke, seizure disorder or cranioencephalic trauma.
In either case, the child may have expressive or receptive language problems, that is, the problem may be due to defects in transmission or understanding of language. Children with this disorder typically have reduced vocabulary and limited grammatical structure. which makes the speech inferior and more limited than expected.
In the case of acquired dysphasia, the effects would be equivalent to those of aphasia in the adult subject, but with the particularity that the greater cerebral plasticity at the stage of development generally allows the appearance of the tongue although there is has neuronal damage.
2. Phonological disorder or dyslalia
Another major oral language disorder is dyslalia. We understand as such the disorders in which different errors occur in the articulation of words, being the most frequent substitution of sounds, distortions of correct sounds or absence (omission) or addition (insertion) of these. For example, a problem with the shape of the tongue can cause dyslalia.
While it is common for this type of problem to occur in childhood, for it to be considered a dyslalia, the mistakes made must be inappropriate for the child’s developmental level, interfering with social and academic performance.
3. Early-onset dysphamia, stammering, or fluidity disturbance in childhood
Dysphamia is a disorder widely known to society as a whole, although we often refer to it as stuttering. This is a disorder focused on the performance of speech, especially their fluency and rhythm. During the emission of speech, the person who suffers from it suffers from one or more spasms or blockages which interrupt the normal rhythm of communication.
Dysphamia often lives with shame and anxiety (which in turn worsens performance) and makes communication and social adjustment difficult. This problem only appears when you are talking to someone, being able to speak normally in solitude, And is not due to brain or perceptual damage.
Dysphamic disorder usually begins between the ages of three and eight. This is due to the fact that at this age he begins to acquire the normal pattern of speech. Depending on their duration, they can find several subtypes of dysphamia: progressive (lasts a few months), benign (lasts a few years) or persistent (the latter being the chronic one that can be seen in adults).
The speech disorder known as dysarthria refers to the difficulty in articulating words due to a neurological problem so that the mouth and the muscles which emit the word do not present the muscular tone due and therefore they do not respond correctly. So the problem is not so much in the muscle tissue (although this also suffers in the long term from its misuse) but in the way the nerves connect to them. It is one of the most well-known types of speech disorders.
5. Social communication disorder (pragmatic)
In this disorder, we find no problem in articulating or understanding the literal content of the message being conveyed. However, those who suffer from it suffer from great difficulties, and it is that this disorder is based on the presence of severe difficulties in the practical use of the language.
Those who suffer from this disorder have problems adapting communication to the context in which they find themselves, as well as understanding metaphorical meaning or implicit in what is said to them and even to change the way they explain something, regulate the conversation with other elements such as gestures or respect the taking turns.
Like dysarthria, dysglossia it is a disorder that causes severe difficulty in articulating the sounds that make up speech. In this case, however, the problem lies in the presence of alterations in the oral organs themselves such as birth defects. So, here there are already easily identifiable errors in the morphology of well-defined body parts.
7. Tachyphemia and farfulleo
It is a speech disorder characterized by overly fast speech, missing words along the way and make mistakes. Its presence is common in people of very excited mood, including cases where the subject is in a manic episode or following the consumption of excitatory substances. However, it can also occur during childhood without the need for external alteration.
One of the best known and most studied groups of language disorders is aphasia. By aphasia we mean that the loss or impairment of language in adult subjects (In children we would face the aforementioned dysphasias) due to the presence of brain damage or injury. Depending on location or structure brain damaged, the effects on language were different, allowing their study to find different types.
Types of aphasia
Although one can find various classifications such as Luria or Jakobson, the best known and most used classification takes into account the presence of verbal fluency, verbal comprehension and the ability to repeat in different types of injuries.
- Pierce aphasia: Characterized by a strong difficulty in producing language and expressing oneself, but maintaining a good level of comprehension. However, people with this type of aphasia usually cannot repeat what they are told. This is mainly due to injury or isolation of the Broca region.
- Transcortical motor aphasia: As in Broca’s aphasia, there is a difficulty in emitting a fluid and coherent language while the comprehension of the language is maintained. The big difference is that in this case the subject is able to repeat (and with a good level of fluidity) what is said to him. It is caused by an injury to the triangular parts, a region close and connected to the region of Broca.
- Wernicke’s aphasia: In this aphasia, the patient shows a high level of language proficiency, although what he says may not make much sense. The main characteristic of this aphasia is that it causes severe difficulties in understanding auditory information, which in turn prevents the repetition of information from the outside. The brain injury is believed to be in the Wernicke region. In schizophrenic patients with speech disorders, it is common to find alterations similar to those of this aphasia.
- Transcortical sensory aphasia: Caused by lesions in the area joining the temporal, parietal and occipital lobes, this aphasia is similar to that of Wernicke except for the detail that the repetition is preserved.
- Motor aphasia: The Broca and Wernicke zones are linked together by a bundle of nerve fibers called the arched fascicle. In this case, the verbal expression and comprehension are relatively correct, but the repetition would be greatly impaired.It should be borne in mind that in order to repeat something, we must first understand what is coming to us and then express it again, so that if the link between the in two areas it is deteriorated, the repetition is damaged.
- Global aphasia: This type of aphasia is due to massive damage to the specialized language hemisphere. All aspects of the tongue would be seriously impaired.
- Mixed transcortical aphasia: Damage to the temporal and parietal lobes can lead to severe impairment in almost all aspects of speech. There is basically an isolation of language, affecting expression and comprehension, although repetition is maintained and the person may even be able to complete sentences.
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- Belloch, Sandín and Ramos (2008). Manual of psychopathology. Madrid. McGraw-Hill. (Vol. 1 and 2) Revised edition.
- Sants, JL (2012). Psychopathology. CEDE PIR preparation manual, 01. CEDE: Madrid.