top of page

What is a Voice Disorder?


Voice disorders involve anomalies in pitch, loudness or quality of the sound produced, which ultimately affects overall speech production. A parent of a child with a voice disorder may think that the child’s voice does not sound quite right when he/she speaks.


Voice disorders can occur due to vocal fold nodules or calloused “bumps” on the vocal cords that do not allow the vocal folds to open and close appropriately, causing distortion in vocal quality. Other voice disorders such as a hoarse or breathy sounding voice can be caused by allergies, bronchitis, or misuse of the voice, such as screaming.

How to a Identify a Voice Disorder


Voice disorders can be recognized in children based on some of the following signs and symptoms and should be assessed by your child’s pediatrician to determine if further intervention is necessary.

  • Hoarse sounding voice

  • Breathy sounding voice

  • Scratchy sounding voice

  • Rough sounding voice

  • Speaking at an unnatural pitch

  • Voice not coming out when the child tries to speak

  • Vocal fatigue

  • Continued use of an adolescent voice after puberty

  • Complaints of a lump in the throat

  • Complaints of neck pain

  • Ear pain going from one ear to the other

What Causes a Voice Disorder?


Voice disorders are caused by a variety of reasons, including, vocal nodules and polyps, vocal cord paralysis, Paradoxical Vocal Fold Movement, and Spasmodic Dysphonia, for example. The more common voice disorders, vocal nodules and polyps, can be caused by vocal abuse, such as overuse of the voice or yelling. Vocal cord paralysis could present itself due to disease, stroke, tumor, head or neck injury, or surgical procedure.

Voice Disorder Treatment


Voice disorder treatment is conducted with a collaborative effort of medical professionals. Your child may need to visit a pediatrician, otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor), speech-language pathologist and neurologist to determine the reason for the voice disorder and appropriate treatments.


A comprehensive examination can be completed at a center for voice disorders. A specialist may use an instrument called an endoscope, which goes through the mouth or nose, to view the vocal folds and larynx at rest. A doctor may also observe vocal fold movement through use of a stroboscope, or flashing light.


After a medical examination has occurred and appropriate medical interventions have taken place, Use Your Words Speech Therapy can provide pediatric voice therapy to manage the behavioral aspect of voice use. Therapy activities may involve increasing awareness of vocal misuse, use of an appropriate voice during play, conversation, reading and moments of excitement, as well as using video feedback to analyze vocal use.

bottom of page