Speech & Hearing Center Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do if you suspect a speech, language, or hearing problem?

The MUW Speech and Hearing Center provides a wide range of services to all ages – infants through elderly. A thorough evaluation by a speech-language pathologist or audiologist is needed to determine a person’s communication strengths and needs. After an evaluation, the speech-language pathologist or audiologist will be able to provide an analysis of the information gathered in the evaluation and plan of treatment when therapy is indicated.

What is a speech-language pathologist?

A speech-language pathologist is a professional educated in the study of human communication, its development, and its disorders, who is certified by ASHA and licensed in the state. By evaluating the speech and language skills of children and adults, the speech-language pathologist determines if communication problems exist and decides that best way to treat these problems.

What is an audiologist?

An audiologist is a professional educated in the study of normal and impaired hearing who is certified by ASHA and licensed in the state. The audiologist determines if a person has a hearing impairment, the type of impairment, and how the individual can make the best use of remaining hearing. If a person will benefit from using a hearing aid or other listening device, the audiologist can assist with the selections, fitting, and purchase of the most appropriate aid as well as with training to help the individual use the aid effectively.

What are speech, language, and/or hearing disorders?

Speech and language disorders affect the way people talk and understand. These disorders may range from simple sound substitutions to not being able to use speech and/or language at all.

Hearing disorders affect the way people hear sound. This may range from hearing speech sounds faintly or in a distorted way to profound deafness.

What causes communication disorders?

Speech and Language: Some causes of speech and language disorders are related to hearing loss, cerebral palsy, and other neurological disorders, severe head injury, stroke, viral diseases, mental handicap, certain drugs, physical impairments such as cleft lip or palate, and vocal abuse or misuse. Frequently, however, the cause is unknown.

Hearing: Some causes of hearing loss are chronic ear infections, heredity, birth defects, health problems at birth, certain drugs, head injury, viral or bacterial infection, exposure to loud noise, aging, and tumors.

What are common speech, language, or hearing disorders?

Speech Disorders:

Articulation Disorders: difficulties with the way speech sounds are formed and strung together usually by substituting one sound for another, omitting a sound, or distorting a sound.

Fluency Disorders: interruptions in the rhythm of speech characterized by hesitation, repetitions, or prolongations of sounds, syllables, words, or phrases.

Voice Disorders: inappropriate pitch (too high, too low, never changing, or interrupted by breaks), loudness (too loud or too soft), or quality (harsh, hoarse, breathy, or nasal).

Reading Disorders:  Evaluation and treatment is available for language-based reading disorders.

Language Disorders:

Delayed acquisition of language: a delay in the development of vocabulary and grammar necessary for expressing and understanding thoughts and ideas.

Aphasia: the loss of speech and language abilities resulting from a stroke or head injury.

Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease: a gradual loss of speech and language abilities resulting from aging, multiple strokes, or brain tumor.

Hearing Disorders:

Conductive hearing loss: sound is not conducted efficiently through the out and/or middle ear causing speech and other sound to be heard less clearly or to sound muffled.

Sensorineural hearing loss: caused by damage in the inner ear or nerve pathways to the brain. Certain sounds are heard less distinctly than others causing distortion and reduced understanding of speech. While this kind of hearing loss is usually not medically correctable, people with sensorineural hearing loss can often be helped by using a hearing aid or other amplification device.

Mixed hearing loss: a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.