Voice Disorders in Children

Voice disorders are a group of medical conditions that involve a change in the pitch, loudness, or quality of someone’s voice.  A voice disorder can range from occasional hoarseness to the complete absence of the voice.  While voice disorders are thought to affect between 3-9% of the adult population, it may surprise you to know that anywhere between 6 and 36% of children present with voice disorders.

Despite affecting a large number of kids, this area is often overlooked and under-researched, and as a result it’s estimated that many more kids are actually affected by voice disorders.  As you can imagine, a voice disorder can have a profound effect on a child’s ability to communicate with those around them. Research has suggested that voice disorders can negatively impact how children are perceived by both adults and their peers.

What are the signs that your child may be at risk of a voice disorder? Symptoms include increased effort to speak, voices that tire more quickly, a breathy or whispery voice, a hoarse or rough voice, or a voice that doesn’t seem to match what you would expect for a child of a similar age and gender.

There are also some risk factors that may put kids at an increased risk of developing a voice disorder.  These include having older siblings, spending long days in large groups, and talking over background noise. Voice disorders are also more common in boys than girls.

The most common type of voice disorder that children present with are vocal nodules. Vocal nodules are small swelling present on both vocal folds and usually come about as a result of increased yelling, screaming, or coughing. These small lesions impede how well our vocal folds are able to come together, and disrupt out normal voice.

What should you do if you are concerned about your child’s voice?

A good place to start is simply to see your GP.  From there, your GP will likely refer you to an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, who will use a small camera to see the vocal folds and confirm if any lesions (such as nodules) are present. From here, a Speech Pathologist usually becomes involved.  As the primary agents of treatment, Speech Pathologists focus on changing behaviour patterns, learnt motor patterns of speaking and/or breathing, and environmental modifications to help improve and preserve the voice of the child for many years of talking, singing, and laughing to come!

We have Speech Language Pathology appointments available in BeenleighChinchilla, Caboolture and Toowoomba.  We also do consults via video conference with TeleTAGBook a phone consult now to discuss your specific therapy needs!

About the Author

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Isabel Devery
Speech Pathologist

Isabel became a Speech Pathologist because she is passionate about helping people and loves to watch her clients reach their goals. She loves to work with clients across a broad range of ages and presentations. If you love bad jokes and even worse puns, you’ll get along with Isabel just fine! Isabel likes: baking, crime documentaries, puppy dogs, and ice cream. Isabel dislikes: spiders, cockroaches, and running out of ice cream. Favourite colour: orange

“Always be a little kinder than neccessary”   – Anonymous

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