Communication Disorders

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Duke speech-language pathologists work with people who have trouble comprehending or processing communication or expressing themselves. We work with all age groups, from infants to seniors, who have mild to severe communication disorders that make it difficult to navigate everyday life. We understand how these disorders can affect you at home, at school, at work, and elsewhere. Our goal is to listen to you, reduce your impairment, and help you achieve success based on your personal goals.

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Common Communication Disorders We Evaluate and Treat

  • Aphasia is a language impairment that can occur after a stroke or head injury.
  • Apraxia of speech is difficulty with the motor programming of speech, which makes it challenging to produce intended words or sounds.
  • Articulation disorders involve substitutions and/or distortions of individual sounds.
  • Auditory processing disorder is when, despite someone having normal hearing, their brain has difficulty processing auditory information.
  • Cognitive communications disorders involve difficulties with memory, attention, language, executive function, and visuospatial processing.
  • Communicating after a tracheostomy (a surgical opening in the windpipe) or extended ventilator use can be made easier by using writing and speech-generating devices or a speaking valve to produce verbal messages.
  • Developmental speech and language disorders can occur alone or in combination with other conditions, such as autism.
  • Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder that can affect how you produce speech sounds.
  • Phonological disorders involve a pattern of errors that affect more than one sound.
  • Pragmatic or social language disorders are difficulties with non-verbal language, such as eye contact and facial expressions.
  • Resonance and velopharyngeal functioning problems can be associated with craniofacial-related conditions like cleft palate.
  • Stuttering is a problem with how speech flows, also called fluency.
  • Voice disorders are problems with voice quality, pitch, loudness, or tone.
Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Diagnosing Communication Disorders

Comprehensive Evaluation
During your initial appointment, we take the time to get a thorough understanding of your or your child’s needs. We’ll discuss your medical history and use surveys and quality-of-life measures to determine what is important to you. 

We’ll assess your or your child’s communication strengths and areas of need using sophisticated instruments, equipment, computer software systems, and other tools. This technology can provide specific information about the type and severity of your impairment and lead to a more precise diagnosis and treatment plan.

Treating Communication Disorders

Our speech-language pathologists are up to date on the latest techniques for treating all types of communication disorders. We also collaborate with a range of specialists to treat any contributing issues.  

Speech Therapy
Speech therapy combines exercises to strengthen muscles used for speaking, activities that teach specific skills and encourage communication, and sometimes aids or devices that help improve your ability to communicate. A certified speech-language pathologist, also called a speech therapist, works with you or your child in individual or group sessions.

High-Tech and Low-Tech Therapy Options
We help you learn to use tools like mobile devices, smart phones, and computers to meet your individual communication goals, which may include skills like transmitting your ideas to another person. Our Augmentative and Alternative Communication Program offers a wide variety of equipment and speech-generating devices, including innovative technology for treating all types of communication disorders. We may also recommend devices such as eye gaze boards, visual schedules, memory books, and communication boards and books.

Pediatric-Specific Speech-Language Pathology Services 
Our goal is to provide each child with a unique plan that supports growth and development and can be incorporated into their daily life.

Audiology Services
For communication problems related to hearing loss and hearing disorders, audiologists can evaluate you or your child to discover the source of your hearing issues and provide treatment options.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals

Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 11 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

Why Choose Duke

Individualized, Compassionate Care
In addition to formal testing, we listen to your personal experiences to make an accurate assessment of your or your child’s communication needs. Throughout treatment, we measure and track progress toward your goals.

Improving Quality of Life
Our trained speech-language pathologists help you understand how a communication disorder may be impacting your quality of life. We work with you and your family to make changes based on your individual needs, and we use a wide variety of simple and sophisticated tools to help you achieve success.

School/Work Involvement
Depending on your needs, our speech-language pathologists will collaborate with teachers or employers to help you reach education and work goals. We teach personalized strategies to make interactions easier, and we provide tips to make communication successful in any type of environment. 

This page was medically reviewed on 04/04/2023 by