A voice disorder refers to an abnormality in the quality, pitch and/or loudness of the voice. Voice disorders can interfere with children’s communication and even limit their participation in certain activities. A common cause of voice disorders in children is vocal abuse or misuse.
Vocal abuse is any behaviour or habit that strains or injures the vocal cords (vocal folds). While many children frequently yell, scream, cry, make loud or harsh sounds, and make character noises, some children can actually develop voice problems as a result of these behaviours. Voice disorders that are commonly seen include vocal nodules (calluses on the vocal folds) or chronic laryngitis.
Treatment for voice disorders caused by vocal abuse or misuse involves educating the child to help to identify and reduce harmful vocal behaviours and teaching techniques such as proper breath support for speech or eliminating forceful production of sounds. Approaches for children must incorporate child-friendly methods that keep the child engaged and motivated.
Before beginning treatment, it is important for the child to be assessed by an otolaryngologist, commonly referred to as an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist).