Pediatric Voice Disorders

While occasional changes in a child's voice are normal during growth and development, persistent or severe voice problems can impact their social interactions, self-confidence, and even academic performance. As a parent or caregiver, it's essential to explore the various facets of pediatric voice disorders, shedding light on their common types, causes, signs, and available interventions.

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speech therapist working with a child with a pediatric voice disorder
father talking to son with a pediatric voice disorder

What is a Pediatric Voice Disorder?

A pediatric voice disorder is defined as a prolonged alteration in the quality, pitch, loudness, or other characteristics of a child’s voice. This deviation from the normal voice may also be accompanied by discomfort and/or pain while speaking. There are various types of pediatric voice disorders which can have different causes and treatments depending on each case.

Common Types of Voice Disorders in Children

While some voice changes are normal as a child’s vocal cords develop, certain conditions can lead to persistent voice problems. The most common types of voice disorders in children include:

  • Vocal Nodules: Also known as polyps, these are benign growths on the vocal cords caused by prolonged misuse or abuse.
  • Spasmodic Dysphonia: A disorder in which the brain cannot control certain muscles used for speaking, resulting in a strained and choppy sound.
  • Vocal Paralysis: A disorder in which the vocal cords are unable to move due to nerve damage, resulting in breathy or whispered speech.
  • Papillomatosis: Abnormal growths on the vocal cords caused by a virus known as Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Laryngitis: Inflammation of the larynx caused by a virus or bacteria, resulting in a hoarse voice.
  • Contact Ulcers: Open sores on the vocal cords that are typically caused by overuse or misuse of the voice.

Symptoms of Voice Disorders

The symptoms of a pediatric voice disorder can vary depending on the child and the severity of the condition. Common symptoms of voice disorders in children include:

  • Hoarseness
  • Weak voice
  • Inappropriate pitch
  • Coughing/Throat clearing
  • Vocal Fatigue
  • Daytime vocal changes
  • Projection difficulty
  • Vocal avoidance

Common Causes of Pediatric Voice Disorders

Pediatric voice disorders can arise from a variety of factors, encompassing both physical and behavioral aspects. One primary cause is vocal misuse and abuse, where children strain their vocal cords through excessive shouting, screaming, or speaking loudly for prolonged periods. 

This can lead to conditions like nodules, polyps, and muscle tension dysphonia. Additionally, anatomical issues present at birth, such as vocal cord abnormalities or clefts in the larynx, can contribute to voice problems. Infections, particularly viral infections like acute laryngitis, can result in temporary hoarseness and voice changes.

speech therapist working with a young girl during speech therapy for voice disorders

Benefits of Speech Therapy for Voice Disorders

Voice disorders in children can be distressing and challenging, but the good news is that there are effective solutions available. Pediatric speech therapy offers a comprehensive range of benefits that extend beyond mere vocal improvement, addressing both physical and psychological aspects of a child’s well-being.

Correct Vocal Habits

Speech therapists correct harmful vocal habits that may contribute to or exacerbate voice disorders. Through targeted guidance and exercises, children learn healthier ways to use their voices. They are taught to modulate their speaking volume, avoid straining their vocal cords, and adopt appropriate pitch and resonance.

Build Vocal Strength

Just as physical therapy strengthens muscles after an injury, speech therapy helps children build vocal strength. Therapists guide children through exercises that engage the muscles responsible for vocalization, enhancing endurance and control. Strengthening these muscles enables children to articulate more clearly and project their voices without strain.

Enhance Communication Skills

Speech therapists work on refining articulation, pronunciation, and intonation. Through guided practice, children gain the skills needed to express themselves clearly and confidently. This enhanced communication proficiency extends beyond verbal interactions to written and nonverbal communication, contributing to improved academic performance and social interactions.

Foster Self-Confidence

Pediatric voice disorders can impact a child’s self-esteem, particularly in social situations where effective communication is vital. Speech therapy works not only on the physical aspects of vocalization but also on building the child’s self-confidence. As children see their progress and develop the ability to communicate more clearly their confidence soars.


Pediatric Speech Therapy for Voice Disorders at Circle of Care

If your child is experiencing voice disorders that are affecting their communication and confidence, remember that you’re not alone on this journey. At Circle of Care, our team of experienced speech-language pathologists is dedicated to providing personalized and compassionate care, helping your child regain their voice and flourish in their social interactions and daily life. Contact us today to get started.