Speech Therapy Glossary

Aphasia (or dysphasia) – indicates a person’s ability to use or understand language is affected; aphasia is usually caused by stroke, traumatic brain injury, or diseases of the brain

Apraxia of speech – a specific speech disorder characterized by an inability to control and coordinate the movements needed to make speech sounds (despite normal muscle functioning); the ability to say words or make speech sounds is inconsistent. Apraxia is sometimes called verbal apraxia, developmental apraxia of speech, or verbal dyspraxia.

Articulation Disorder – difficulty correctly producing speech sounds (phonemes) because of problems with the articulators (lips, teeth, tongue, jaw, soft palate)

Alternative/Augmentative Communication (AAC) – a substitute or supplemental tool used for communication by individuals with absent or limited speech. AAC may include communication boards with photos or symbols or electronic devices.

Auditory Processing Disorder – difficulty in how the central nervous system (CNS) uses auditory information; a problem with how the brain recognizes and interprets sounds, most notably the sounds composing speech

Backing – when sounds that should be made at the front of the mouth (such as ‘t’) are made at the back instead; an example would be saying ‘key’ for ‘tea.’

Bilateral hearing loss – a loss of hearing in both ears

Cluster Reduction – when two consonants at the beginning of a word are reduced to just one (e.g., saying ‘sand’ instead of ‘stand’)

Conductive Hearing Impairment – hearing loss caused by dysfunction of the outer or middle ear

Dysarthria – when facial muscle weakness affects speech production, leaving it sounding slurred, flat, nasal or jerky in rhythm. Dysarthria occurs as a result of brain or nerve damage.

Dysfluency (or stuttering) – When the smooth flow of speech is interrupted. Dysfluency may occur by repetition of whole words, repetition of a single sound, prolonging of sounds, or blocking, where the mouth is open but no sound comes out. Facial tension may be present and occasionally extra body movements may occur.

Dysphagia – difficulty swallowing

Expressive Language – The area of language skills related to communicating information verbally.

Fronting – When sounds that should be made at the back of the mouth are made at the front (e.g. ‘tea’ instead of ‘key’ or ‘tar’ instead of ‘car’)

Myofunctional Therapy – a specific therapy program utilized to correct forward tongue placement/tongue thrusting, correct deviant swallowing patterns, eliminate thumb sucking habits, and maintain orthodontic retention

Oral Motor/Oral Placement Therapy – movement techniques used in therapy to facilitate muscle memory and increase range of motion, strength, and coordination for specific speech sound execution

Phonological Difficulties – difficulty selecting and using the correct sounds necessary for speech; difficulties can be characterized dependent on where or how the sound is made. See backing, fronting, stopping, and cluster reduction for more information.

Pragmatic Language – The area of language skills related to social use of language/communication

Receptive Language – The area of language skills related to processing and understanding information

Stopping  – When long sounds come out as short ones (e.g., ‘sand’ comes out as ‘dand’ or ‘socks’ come out as ‘docks’)

Syntax/Morphology – the area of language skills related to grammatical use of words

Vocal Nodule – a callous-like growth that is noncancerous and grows on the inner part of the vocal cords, caused by vocal misuse or abuse

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