Achondroplasia is a disorder of bone growth that causes the most common type of dwarfism. The word achondroplasia literally means “without cartilage formation.” Cartilage is a tough but flexible tissue that makes up much of the skeleton during early development. However, in achondroplasia the problem is not in forming cartilage but in converting it to bone (a process called ossification), particularly in the long bones of the arms and legs.

Arthrogryposis describes congenital joint contractures in two or more areas of thebody. Children born with one or more joint contractures have abnormal fibrosis ofthe muscle tissue causing muscle shortening, and therefore have limited range ofmotion in the affected joint or joints.

This is how the child responds to auditory information. It includes auditory attention(ability to focus on spoken information); auditory sequencing (ability of the brain tocorrectly comprehend the order of sentences or lists of words); and auditory memory for words, sentences and instructions (the ability of the child to remember spoken information), following instructions and recalling details.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are disorders of brain development affecting a child’s communication skills, social skills and in their play and behaviour (Autism Research Training Program, 2010 ). The disorder presents differently in each child with respect to severity and symptoms.

Brachial plexus injury is a loss of movement or weakness of the arm that occurs when the collection of nerves around the shoulder are damaged during birth. This bundle of nerves is called the brachial plexus.

Cerebral palsy (CP) refers to a group of disorders in the development of motor control and posture, occurring as a result of a non-progressive impairment of the developing central nervous system. The motor disorders of cerebral palsy can be accompanied by disturbances of sensation, cognition, communication, perception, and/or seizure disorder (Rosenbaum, 2007).

Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects that occur when a baby’s lip or mouth do not form properly during pregnancy. These birth defects commonly are called “orofacial clefts”. These birth defects happen early during pregnancy. A baby can have a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or both a cleft lip and cleft palate.

Congenital muscular torticollis (CMT), also called twisted neck or wryneck, is a condition in which an infant holds his or her head tilted to one side and has difficulty turning the head. CMT is present at birth or develops soon after. It is usually discovered in the first 6 to 8 weeks of life, when a newborn begins to gain more control over the head and neck.


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) (American Psychiatric Association, 1994 as cited in Mandich et al., 2003) describes children with DCD as having marked impairment in the development of motor coordination that is not explained by mental retardation nor by a known physical disorder, that significantly interferes with academic achievement or activities of daily living.

At the London Consensus, DCD was described as a chronic and usually permanent condition characterised by impairment of motor performance that is sufficient to produce functional motor performance deficits that are not explicable by the child’s age or intellect, or by other diagnosable neurological or spatial-temporal organisational problems (Missiuna et al., 2003; Dewey & Wilson, 2001).

Child development refers to the process in which children go through changes in skill development during predictable time periods, called developmental milestones. Developmental delay occurs when children have not reached these milestones by the expected time period. For example, if the normal range for learning to walk is between 9 and 15 months, and a 18-month-old child is still not walking, this would be considered a developmental delay.

Developmental delays can occur in all five areas of development or may just happen in one or more of those areas. Additionally, growth in each area of development is related to growth in the other areas. So if there is a difficulty in one area (e.g., speech and language), it is likely to influence development in other areas (e.g., social and emotional).

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder, associated with the presence of an extra chromosome 21. Some symptoms include some degree of mental retardation, characteristic facial features and visual and hearing impairment. Coordination is often lacking due to low muscle tone, and the voice can be boisterous. These children will learn to do the things other babies will do, but it will take them longer to reach development milestones.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. DMD is caused by an absence of dystrophin, a protein that helps keep muscle cells intact. Symptom onset is in early childhood, usually between ages 3 and 5. The disease primarily affects boys, but in rare cases it can affect girls.

Dysphagia is a condition in which swallowing is difficult or painful. Causes of dysphagia vary from neuromuscular diseases, neurological disorders, prematurity or the presence of a cleft lip or palate. Some children have difficulty with swallowing due to sensory discomfort with how food feels in their mouth.

Gastric reflux my also contribute to dysphagia. All speech pathologists at TherapyWorx are experts in the area of dysphagia and swallowing disorders. Oral Motor/ Feeding therapy will address the specific issues impacting each child’s feeding disorder.

Dyspraxia is the partial loss of the ability to co-ordinate and perform skilled, purposeful movements and gestures with accuracy. Apraxia is the complete loss of this ability. Dyspraxia/apraxia may be acquired (e.g. a head injury), or associated with delay of normal neurological development.

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), also known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), is the most common type of arthritis in children under the age of 16. JRA is an autoimmune, non- infective, inflammatory joint disease of more than 3 months duration, and causes persistent joint pain, swelling and stiffness. Some children may experience symptoms for only a few months, while others have symptoms for the rest of their lives.Treatment of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis focuses on controlling pain, improving function and preventing joint damage. References: “Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA): Joint Disorders: Merck Manual Professional”.

Oral-motor feeding is the coordination, timing and movement of the feeding system. Children who have difficulty with oral feeding may exhibit this disorder. Meal times can become exhausting, and eating and drinking may be dangerous, stressful and awkward. The speech pathologist understands the biomechanical interrelationship of the head, neck and trunk and recognizes the impact of abnormal muscle tone, compensatory body posturing and patterns of movement that influence oral motor functioning and respiration. Specific goals in oral motor therapy include the handling of food in the mouth in coordination with swallowing and breathing to eliminate choking, gagging and aspiration.

This is the ability of the child to consciously reflect on sounds within words. It includes skills such as the ability to identify first, last and middle sounds; rhyming; the ability to break sentences into words and words into syllables; and the ability to join words, syllables and sounds to form new words. It includes the foundation skills that will be needed to learn to read and spell phonetic (sound) words, such as “plop”.

A premature infant is a baby who is born too early, before 37 weeks. Premature babies may have more health problems and may need to stay in the hospital longer than babies born later. They may also have long-term health problems that can lead into adulthood. Finding and treating health problems as early as possible can help babies lead longer, healthier, and more independent lives. The earlier in pregnancy a baby is born, the more likely he/she is to have health problems. Some premature babies have to spend time in a hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (also called NICU). Premature birth can lead to long-term intellectual and developmental disabilities. These are problems with how the brain works.

Sensory processing (sometimes called “sensory integration” or SI) is a term that refers to the way the brain receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. For example, when you are riding a bicycle, reading a book, or drawing a picture, your successful completion of the activity requires processing sensation or “sensory integration.” Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as “sensory integration dysfunction”) is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. It is like a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly.

Speech: Refers to articulation, or the movement of the lips, tongue, cheeks and soft palate, to produce sounds and combinations of sounds. Usually, by 6 months, a child is using a variety of sounds in vocal play. By 12 months, a child is usually combining sounds into a few words or word-like appointments. By the age of 2 years, most speech is intelligible but usually not precise. Accuracy of sounds continues to improve as the child grows. A child with a speech disorder would have difficulty creating or forming speech. Language: Refers to the areas that control understanding information, processing information and forming words or gestures. The ability to follow directions, vocabulary, grammar, understanding of concepts and emotions are all part of language. A child with a language disorder would have difficulty understanding (receptive language disorder) and/or communicating (expressive language disorder) with other people.

Spina bifida is an abnormality in the development of the spine and spinal cord which leaves a gap in the spine. During the first month of life, an embryo (developing baby) grows a structure called the neural tube that will eventually form the spine and nervous system. In cases of spina bifida, something goes wrong and the spinal column (the bone that surrounds and protects the nerves) does not fully close. In most cases, surgery can be carried out to close the defect.
However, damage to the nervous system will usually already have taken place, resulting in a range of symptoms, including: partial or total paralysis of the lower limbs
bowel incontinence and urinary incontinence
loss of skin sensation

Stuttering, is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases as well as involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the person who stutters is unable to produce sounds.
Children as young as age three may be treated for stuttering. If warranted by severity, early remediation is often the best option. The major goals of speech therapy will be the improvement of fluency and overall communication.
References: Irwin, M (2006). Au-Yeung, J; Leahy, MM, eds. Terminology –How Should Stuttering be Defined? and Why? Research, Treatment, and Self-Help in Fluency Disorders: New Horizons. The International Fluency Association. pp. 41–45.