slider-kids-elbows-1024x419What is a voice disorder?

Voice disorders occur when voice quality, pitch, and loudness differ or are inappropriate or for an individual’s age, gender, cultural background, or geographical location.(www.ASHA.org )

Does my child have a voice disorder?

If you think your child may have a voice disorder, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does he/she have a hoarse/unpleasant voice?
  2. Does he/she have an inefficient voice?

If you answered “yes” to either of the above questions, then your child should receive a medical evaluation by an ENT and a speech-language assessment by an SLP.

What causes a voice disorder?

There are three causes of voice disorders-vocal abuse, vocal misuse, and medical problems.

  1. Vocal abuse is caused by straining the vocal cords-screaming, forceful talking, frequent coughing/throat clearing, imitating environmental sounds (engines, sirens, animal sounds).
  2. Vocal misuse is caused by loud talking, using a pitch that is either too high or too low, and talking over background noise.
  3. Medical problems that cause voice disorders are numerous but include frequent colds/congestion, allergies, reflux, and neck injuries.

If your child is abusing or misusing their voice, the following tips can help to help reduce these harmful behaviors.

  1. Determine when your child is harming his/her voice (outside play, sports, etc.), then discuss with him/her when they are misusing their voice.
  2. Use reminders to decrease harmful use-
  3. Tell him/her to use a softer voice
  4. Use a signal to remind him/her to decrease effortful speech
  5. Post a picture in your home that reminds your child to use appropriate speech level
  6. Discuss substitutes for voice use-
  7. Texting rather than talking on your phone in a loud area
  8. Take pom-poms or signs to sporting events
  9. Use clapping instead of cheering
  10. Use waving rather than yelling to a person far away
  11. Reduce the use of environmental sounds and throat clearing.
  12. Reduce unnecessary background noise- turn down the TV/music and keep car windows closed.
  13. Talk less-choose quiet activities or establish daily quiet times in order to rest voice.
  14. Set up a reward system- verbal praise, prizes, and charts can be used to reward good vocal habits.
  15. Model good vocal habits for your child by using appropriate pitch/loudness and take turns talking.
  16. Monitor your child’s health and consult their pediatrician if he/she has frequent congestion, reflux, or other condition that can be harmful to the vocal cords.
  17. Monitor your child’s voice and consult with their pediatrician or SLP if his/her voice changes in any way.

Voice disorders can affect adults and children of all ages.  If you suspect a voice disorder in your child, your child should receive a medical evaluation by an ENT and a speech-language assessment by an SLP.   Our speech pathologists at JHA are knowledgeable in this area and able to help you determine if your child needs voice intervention. If you would like more information or to set up an evaluation please call our front desk, 901-328-2110. 

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