Early Childhood Dysarthria

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Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder that results in an impairment of the muscles used for the production of speech (e.g. tongue, lips, vocal cords, etc.). The major speech characteristics of the disorder are slurred, slow speech, imprecise articulation, hypo or hypernasality, weak vocal quality, and difficulty maintaining pitch and intonation. Non-speech characteristics include difficulties with chewing, swallowing, and sucking that can potentially lead to gagging or choking. The type and severity of the dysarthria varies depending on the damage to the nervous system. Dysarthria is typically the result of neurological damage that can occur either during birth or later in life. Childhood dysarthria can be caused by damage to the immature brain…show more content…
The assessment may include parent and client interviews, completed developmental and/or medical history of the client, oral motor examination, assessment of the voice and respiratory abilities, spontaneous speech sample, and a possible formal or informal assessment of expressive and receptive language abilities. The speech-language pathologist may conduct a formal or informal assessment of language in order to rule out other language disorders that may be affecting the child’s communication abilities. A cranial nerve examination may also be conducted to assess the child’s cranial nerve function. In addition, the child’s nutrition, growth, and swallowing should be continuously monitored with follow up addressing impairment in any of these…show more content…
Although this is the case, much of the research regarding treatment and management of dysarthria tends to be focused around two different methods. One treatment method involves a system-based approach that targets improvement of function and coordination of the following speech subsystems: respiration, phonation, articulation, and resonance. Using a system-based approach, speech-language pathologists work with children to increase their speech intelligibility, maximize prosody, and increase prosodic contours. Another speech treatment model is LSVT LOUD, which was adapted from the adult dysarthria treatment method used with patients with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions. LSVT LOUD has been found to be effective in working with children with dysarthria through targeting vocal loudness and respiratory-phonatory effort (Fox & Boliek, 2012). Both treatment methods and evidence to support their use will be discussed in detail

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