encompasses a wide variety of problems in language, speech, and hearing. Speech and language impairments include articulation problems, voice disorders, fluency problems (such as stuttering), aphasia (difficulty in using words, usually as a result of a brain injury), and delays in speech and/or language. Speech and language delays may be due to many factors, including environmental factors or hearing loss.
Hearing impairments include partial hearing and deafness. Deafness may be defined as a loss sufficient to make auditory communication difficult or impossible without amplification. There are four types of hearing loss. Conductive hearing losses are caused by diseases or obstructions in the outer or middle ear and can usually be helped with a hearing aid. Sensorineural losses result from damage to the sensory hair cells of the inner ear or the nerves that supply it and may not respond to the use of a hearing aid. Mixed hearing losses are those in which the problem occurs both in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear. A central hearing loss results from damage to the nerves or brain.
Many communication disorders result from other conditions such as learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, or cleft lip or cleft palate.