Glossary of Terms


APRAXIA OF SPEECH: A speech disorder in which articulation is impaired. It is characterized by inconsistent initiation, selection, and sequencing of articulatory movements. It may also include inconsistent disturbances of phonation, respiration, and resonance. It is a motor planning disturbance in which certain brain circuits devoted to the programming or articulation movements are impaired.

ARTICULATION: The way in which we produce sounds so as to create understandable speech in syllables, words, phrases, sentences, and conversations.

AUDITORY COMPREHENSIVE/RECEPTIVE LANGUAGE: This is the understanding of language and includes concepts, vocabulary, grammar, and following directions.

AUDITORY DISCRIMINATION: The process of listening to two sounds and identifying if they are the same or different.

AUDITORY PROCESSING: A number of steps or operations, which occur in the brain, using the electrical impulses from the auditory nerve to send information to the auditory cortex.

AUGMENTATIVE COMMUNICATION: Communication aids for people whose speech is unintelligible or for those who are non-verbal. Various forms are used depending on the motor strengths of the individual. These can include sign language, picture symbols, a voice output electronic device, or a modified type of the keyboard.

DYSARTHRIA: A speech disorder of articulation characterized by loss of muscle function with consistent weakness, slowness, lack of coordination, or altered muscle tone.

DYSFLUENCY: A speech disorder with problems of a child or adult repeating a sound, word or phrase, prolonging or blocking on sounds or words. These may exhibit with or without facial grimaces or other body tension. Another form of dysfluency may present with the individual “cluttering” their speech with rapid or staccato rhythmic patterns which are abnormal.

COGNITIVE COMMUNICATION: This describes the executive functioning skills needed for problem solving, mental planning, self-monitoring, regulation, evaluation, and self-correction. Cognitive development is built by sustaining auditory and visual focus, attention, and understanding basic concepts. Speech therapy that uses activities to stimulate and develop these cognitive skills, underlying language development, will be more successful and effective for communication to successfully emerge.

EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE: This is the use or output of language usually in the form of speech production and includes the use of vocabulary and sentence structure to put thoughts into words. Language can also be expressed through the use of augmentative forms. See Augmentative Communication definition.

FEEDING/SWALLOWING THERAPY: Therapy addresses problems that individuals have accepting and tolerating a variety of foods of differing tastes and textures. These problems may be the result of either neurological or developmental deficits affecting the swallowing sequence or a sensory integration dysfunction impairing acceptance of food presented. The individual may be considered a “picky eater” or may have an extremely limited diet of no more than 3 to 5 foods with limited nutritional intake. This may cause failure to thrive requiring more aggressive therapy measures with a collaborative team approach.

FLUENCY: The ability to talk with words following one another using normalized rhythm, rate, and word recall.

HEARING ACUITY: The ability of the external, middle, and inner ear to detect sound waves and turn them into electrical impulses which are moved from the ear to the brain via the auditory nerve.
HYPERNASALITY: A disturbance of resonance where abnormal flow of air from the nose is produced during speech. It is caused by incomplete closure of the soft palate (velum) and the back wall of the throat (pharynx).

MYOFUNCTIONAL THERAPY: Therapy involving tongue exercises for awareness, strengthening, and tongue posture behind the teeth. These exercises are designed to correct a deviate swallow resulting from the tongue posturing either between the front incisors or sides of the teeth. It may cause a dysfunctional dental position known as an “overjet” or “overbite.” The deviate swallow may coincide with a speech “lisp” or may affect only the swallowing sequence.

OTITIS MEDIA: A medical condition of the middle ear in which fluid is collected or built up in the middle ear affecting balance and hearing acuity.

PRAGMATIC LANGUAGE: This is the way in which we use expressive language to interact with others, including eye contact, body language, asking and answering questions, and turn-taking.

SELECTIVE MUTISM: Consistent failure to speak in specific social situations (in which there is an expectation for speaking, e.g. at school) despite speaking in other situations).

SEQUENCING AND TIMING: The inner clock of rhythm drives each person’s ability to organize the inner thinking, reasoning, communication, and social connections with calm, focused attention.