Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

Speech Disorders Factsheet (for Schools)

What Teachers Should Know

Speech disorders can make it hard to communicate. Someone may have trouble with:

  • articulation (production of speech sounds), such as lisping, when a person substitutes the letters “s” and “z” with “th”
  • voice: the pitch and volume of sounds made
  • fluency (flow of speech), such as stuttering or stammering

Sometimes kids with speech disorders have oral–motor problems. This means the muscles used to create speech aren’t working properly. Speech disorders also can be related to conditions like a developmental delay, autism, a hearing disorder, weak muscles around the mouth, cleft lip or palate, hoarseness, and breathing or swallowing disorders.

Treatment for a speech problems focuses on speech-language therapy to improve skills. The sooner therapy begins, the better.

What Teachers Can Do

Students with speech disorders may benefit from individualized education programs (IEPs) or 504 education plans. Many kids see a speech-language pathologist during the school day. Therapy may be one or more times a week, depending on the severity of the problem.

Kids with speech problems can feel stressed and anxious, which can make it even harder to talk and express themselves. A student may speak slowly in class and should be given plenty of time to express thoughts. It’s not helpful to interrupt or complete a sentence for the student, and might embarrass them.

To support students in your classroom:

  • Move students closer to you. A child may need to sit closer to you if speech problems are related to a hearing problem. 
  • Give extra time to complete assignments or make up work when needed.
  • Substitute written papers or projects for oral presentations, or allow a student to demonstrate learning one-on-one with you. Asking questions in a way that lets the student give a brief answer can also help. 
  • Use technology to make learning easier. A special education teacher, speech-language pathologist, or the student’s family may be able to suggest the best programs or devices to use.
  • Be patient when students with speech disorders speak. Be a role model to your other students about the importance of not interrupting and letting people finish their own sentences.
  • Talk about and celebrate differences. Students with speech problems want to be accepted like everyone else. But sometimes they’re targeted by others who see them as “different.” Talk about and celebrate differences, and focus on the interests that kids share. Be mindful of bullying, and keep a zero-tolerance policy for that behavior.

By addressing special needs and offering support when needed, you can help students with a speech disorder learn as best as possible.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date Reviewed: 10-03-2021

What next?

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.