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Types of Speech Impediments

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CJ Baker is a lifelong music fan and creator of sonic noise. He was born with a speech impediment.

I Was Born With a Speech Impediment

I was born with a speech impediment (also called a speech disorder). I had a tough time rolling the "r" sound, and I struggled to produce the "th" sound. I also had a tendency to speak very quickly, which at times made my speech difficult to understand.

There are a number of types of speech and language disorders. This article examines six main types:

  1. Stuttering
  2. Apraxia of speech
  3. Speech Sound Disorder
  4. Cluttering
  5. Lisps
  6. Muteness
King George VI of England had to fight to overcome stuttering

King George VI of England had to fight to overcome stuttering


Stuttering (also known as stammering) may be the most well-known speech disorder. Stuttering is when a person repeats the first half of a word. It also may involve the prolonging of a syllable or involuntary pauses. Stuttering is a speech impediment that can both be developmental or acquired. It can also be linked to low self-esteem, anxiety, or a traumatic experience from childhood.

Stuttering was brought into the spotlight with the movie The King's Speech. The movie highlighted King George VI's real-life struggle to overcome stuttering with the help of his speech therapist, Lionel Logue.

Apraxia of Speech

Apraxia involves the inconsistent producing and rearranging of speech sounds. For instance, "potato" may become "totapo."

There are two types of this speech disorder:

  1. Developmental: It is evident from childhood and is generally present from birth.
  2. Acquired: It is evident in adults and is generally a result of a physical injury or stroke.

Speech Sound Disorder

A speech sound disorder involves difficulty producing certain sounds. For me, this primarily involved difficulty producing the "r" and "th" sounds.

Speech sound disorders are subdivided into two categories of speech disorders:

  1. Phonetic disorders: This is also commonly referred to as articulation disorder. These types of speech impediments involve the individual having difficulty in learning to produce certain sounds physically.
  2. Phonemic disorders: These types of speech impediments involve the individual having difficulty learning the sound distinctions of a language.

It is possible for a person to struggle with a mixture of both phonetic and phonemic.


Cluttering is a speech disorder that affects a person's fluency. This can happen if the person has a tendency to speak really fast. This can also result when an individual continues to repeat themselves in order to try to make themselves understood.

For me, cluttering was coupled with my speech sound disorder. When I was a child, I spoke really fast, and I had a tendency to repeat myself in order to be understood. This was a tendency I had to overcome in order to deal with my speech sound disorder.


A lisp is a speech impediment that can be common among children who are struggling to produce certain speech sounds.

There are four aspects to a lisp:

  1. Interdental lisp: This takes place when the tongue pops in and out during speech.
  2. Lateral lisp: This is a reference to the wet sound which is produced due to air breaking away from the sides of the tongue.
  3. Dentalised lisps: This takes place when a person put their tongues and pushes air outward. This results in the production of muffled sounds.
  4. Palatal lisp: This takes place when the tongue's midsection brushes against the soft palate.


Muteness is a speech disorder that involves a complete inability to speak. This could be either developmental or acquired.

Another type of muteness is referred to as selective muteness. Selective muteness involves an individual (generally a child) who has the ability to speak fluently but is unable to in certain settings. This is widely viewed as an anxiety disorder.

Speech Disorders Can Be Overcome

We have just identified six types of speech disorders. There are a number of other types as well. The one thing that most speech disorders have in common is that with speech therapy and hard work, they can be successfully overcome.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: Ever since I've been able to speak, my soft r's have been pronounced as y's. I have no idea the classification of my speech impediment. What would this be classed as?

Answer: It sounds like that would meet the definition of a speech sound disorder.

Question: I once knew someone whose tongue would flutter when she spoke. I am hard of hearing, so it was extremely difficult to read her lips. What do you call that kind of impediment?

Answer: Tongue fluttering quite often is involved with rolling the r's and it is a technique used for different wind instruments. If the person happened to be a musician they might of just got into the habit of speaking that way. I don't believe it is commonly associated with any specific speech impediment, but I could be wrong.

Question: I am a Para. One of the teachers that I work with has a student (kinder) who is very difficult to understand. Instead of saying "kindergarten" he says "tindertarden." how do I help him with this?

Answer: If available, it sounds like the child would benefit from speech therapy. A speech therapist would know what the specific issue is and how to address it. Otherwise it would be good to encourage the child to speak slowly which could help with enunciation.

© 2012 CJ Baker


gg on May 12, 2017:

Hello, I am 13 and I have had a stutter and a speech delay ever since I could talk. I did intensive speech therapy for 6 years and it hasn't worked. I have done 1 thing which has helped the most, I would tap out the words on my fingers when I have trouble speaking. I hope this will help other people. But this is the only thing that has worked for me. I have tried rapping, breathing, repeating words and many other things and they don't seem to work. Can anyone help me find other ways to improve on my stutter?

Hannah on May 03, 2017:


Loved your post. I am 35 years old and have struggled for about 25 years. Saying my name when meeting new people or using the phone is almost impossible. I have tried for years to breathe and relax, but still feel the anxiousness in my chest and throat

CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on April 18, 2017:

Hi J, thanks for the read and comment. I do think it is possible. You would need to be patient. Also you can encourage someone with a speech impediment to speak slower and it is possible to help show them how to enunciate properly. It would be good to do your research and maybe consult with professionals concerning the best ways to help.

J on April 18, 2017:

Is it possible to help someone with a speech impediment even if I'm not a trained professional? Specifically the speech sound disorder one.

CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on July 06, 2015:

Thanks Larry for the read and the personal expressions. You are a good example that it is possible to thrive with a speech impediment (or whatever name you want to attach to it). Of course as you also highlighted it is not without its challenges. I can personally relate to many of your experiences. Thanks again for sharing.

Larry Wall on July 02, 2015:

I just came across your Hub. I have/had a speech defect, impediment, impairment...the name was always changing.

I could not pronounce the L, R and W sounds correctly. My name was Larry Wall--I had a hard time convincing people that was my name and not Harry Hall, Lawwy All and so on. The traveling speech therapist from the public school was no help. Two things made a difference. In the 11th grade, I had the same teacher for Latin and English. I learned more English grammar in the Latin class than anywhere else. By that time, I had also learned that if I could speak louder, I spoke more clearly. In the English class, we were reading Julius Caesar,with different people playing various parts. I started out as the soothsayer, "Beware the ides of March." I figured that was the shortest part and could just sit back and listen. The teacher kept giving bigger parts that I read with expression and more volume. By the time we near the end of the play, I was Brutus one day, Cassius another and as Mark Anthony, got to read the soliloquy regarding Cesar's death. I was able to get more therapy in college from students in the Speech Department. Years later, I joined a Toastmaster's club and learned again that the more I projected the better I spoke. I still have the impairment. Some blends give me trouble, but I have managed for nearly 35 years, because one teacher gave me the opportunity to learn how I could speak more clearly. I related well to the King's Speech. I did stutter sometimes. The hardest part was having people who did not understand, tell me to "Just speak more slowly," and then exaggerate the pronunciation of some words thinking they could fix me. Being speech impaired as a child was difficult because, while it is a handicap, it is not the same as being blind, stuck in a wheel chair, or missing a limb. Granted, being speech impaired is nothing compared to those other items, but for young people is can be a source of a lot of verbal abuse and lead to extreme shyness and reluctance to take part in many activities. Finding good therapists is hard. Finding a person like my eleventh grade teacher was a miracle. It took me a couple of years to realize what she had done for me. As a news reporter I interviewed hundreds of people over 16 years and in my public relations job for 26 years, gave dozen of speakers. I do not have the best voice, but it is adequate. However, for some it was not and while there was no stated reason for my dismissal from my last job, after 23years, the speech issue had to be a part of the equation. Thank you for your Hub. It has a lot of good information that people need to understand.

Dddddaniel on September 30, 2014:

I struggled with my speech impediment for years. I saw a speech therapist 2 times a week until I was in eighth grade. Now I still suffer from the impediment but most people say I just sound southern.

The most important tips I can give a parent are these :

1) Never rush your child. This will just make them nervous and make it harder for them to articulate their thoughts. Patience is key!

2) Never correct your childs impediment publicly. This is very embarrassing and can severely affect their self esteem (I know this from personal experience).

3) Never try to translate for your child unless they ask you too. They may grow aggitated but in order to succeed they must learn to communicate.

4) DO provide your child with support and encouragement.

5) DO have your child read to you (this is a great way for them to practice articulation).

6) DO enroll your child in speech therapy. This can be very helpful.

CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on June 05, 2013:

Thanks for the read and the comment. I am glad that you found it informative! I agree with you about "The King's Speech".

Jeffrey Dela Costa from Philippines on June 05, 2013:

Your article (and the picture) reminds me of the movie "The King's Speech" such a moving motion picture. I'm glad I read these facts about the different types of speech impediment, my knowledge about the topic has increased.

CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on February 20, 2013:

LisaMarie, has a child he may grow out of it, but you also might consider speech therapy as well. Depending on your school board, it may be offered through your son's school. I am glad that you found it interesting. Thanks for the read and the comment.

Lisa Stover from Pittsburgh PA on February 20, 2013:

My son is 6 and he has a lisp sometimes, I believe he will outgrow this at some point. I didn't know the different types so this was a very interesting read for me.

CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on February 19, 2013:

Ls and Rs are not unusual, and I struggled with my Rs growing up. I am not familiar with the hiccups but a speech therapist would be able to offer assistance with that. With the loudness, I happen to have a loud voice and I have known of others with speech disorders that have struggled with controlling their volume. Not 100% sure of the reason why. Once again a speech therapist would be able to offer assistance there.

Thanks for the read and the comment.

todd on February 19, 2013:

I know of a child who has a very unusual speech issue that I've never heard before. She actually has a couple of issues. First, she can't pronounce her Ls and Rs. But also, when she speaks, it seems like she has little hiccups in the middle of words. Also, a lot of times, the first syllable of her sentence is very loud. Do you have any ideas about this?

CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on August 31, 2012:

Thanks for the insight! I agree it is sad that we can't deal with each other with more understanding.

Skarlet from California on August 31, 2012:

Interesting article. I know someone who had a very bad stutter and has had therapy to overcome his problem. He must speak very slowly, and people who do not know his situation often think he is weird and they feel uncomfortable talking to him because he does not respond to questions immediately.

It is very sad.

CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on August 25, 2012:

Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing your personal insights. It is greatly appreciated.

Kim Kennedy from uk on August 25, 2012:

Interesting hub, thank you. As a child I had a spell of a year or so when I didn't really speak. My parents were quite laid back and said, she'll speak when she's ready. They bought me a puppy for my ninth birthday, apparently I'd go in the garden and talk to her, then began speaking to people. Strange to think about it.

CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on July 12, 2012:

Thanks Simone. I agree that it is good to be inform. As GI Joe says "knowing is half the the battle". After we have the knowledge, we can use that awareness to assist those with different speech disorders.

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on July 12, 2012:

What an incredibly useful Hub. I've heard so many stories from people who had speech disorders that were not properly identified or dealt with, so I'm all for becoming more educated. I'm so happy to finally have a basic understanding of six major types of language disorders. Thanks, spartucusjones!

CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on July 09, 2012:

Thanks for the comment, I appreciate the insights!

Dianna Mendez on July 09, 2012:

As a Spanish speaker I can see where cluttering could affect our language and communication. We speak rapidly and have to switch gears when we speak English, which is a spoken at a slower pace. Very educating!

CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on July 08, 2012:

Appreciate the kind comments. You are right, family support is important.

Kaili Bisson from Canada on July 08, 2012:

Another very informative article spartucus, well done. The King also had the love and support of a very fine woman, the beloved Queen Mom.

CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on July 08, 2012:

Thanks for your comments. Hopefully with hard work and assistance (such as speech therapy) you will be able to recover.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on July 08, 2012:

Funny, the timing of this article. I just lost what little speech I had 3 days ago