Voice Disorders Specialist

Speech Success

Jacqueline Ahrens, SLPD, CCC-SLP

Pediatric Speech Therapist located in Emerson, NJ

Nothing is more enjoyable than watching kids play a game and let off some pent-up energy with loud whoops and yells. But too much yelling and frequently straining their voice from singing or cheering also leads to voice disorders. Jacqueline Ahrens, SLPD, CCC-SLP, at Speech Success, specializes in voice therapy to treat disorders and prevent future problems. If you notice your child's voice sounds hoarse, call the office in Emerson, New Jersey, or request an appointment online today.

Voice Disorders Q&A

What are voice disorders?

A voice disorder refers to a change in your child's voice quality due to strain or an underlying health condition or daily habits such as yelling. Their voice becomes hoarse, raspy, or breathy. The volume or pitch of their voice could also change.

Voice disorders occur when there's a problem with your child's voice box (larynx). The voice box produces sound when air passes through the vocal folds (vocal cords).

The air makes the cords vibrate, creating sound waves that allow your child to talk, sing, and yell. As tension changes in the vocal cords, they open and close, creating changes in pitch.

Voicebox problems cause voice disorders that affect your child's ability to make sounds. However, voice disorders do not interfere with their speech and language skills.

What causes voice disorders?

Voice misuse (abuse) is the top cause of voice disorders in children. This problem occurs when their vocal cords get injured due to yelling, shouting, or severe or chronic coughing.

Conditions in their vocal cords also lead to voice disorders. The most common problems in children include:

  • Chronic laryngitis
  • Vocal nodules
  • Vocal polyps
  • Vocal cord paralysis
  • Wart-like growths
  • Subglottic stenosis

Voice misuse contributes to voice loss, long-term hoarseness, chronic laryngitis, and vocal nodules.

What symptoms do voice disorders cause?

Hoarseness or a scratchy voice are the top signs of a voice disorder. Your child's voice may sound unusually deep for their age. They may also lose their voice after cheering, shouting during a game, or singing. If a nodule develops, they may feel like they have a lump in their throat. 

How are voice disorders treated?

Speech-language pathologists are experts in treating voice disorders with voice therapy. Though some health conditions may need medical care, speech therapy improves hoarseness and often makes vocal nodules get smaller or disappear.

During voice therapy, Dr. Ahrens uses a range of techniques that:

  • Eliminate strain on the vocal cords
  • Teach vocal habits that don't strain the vocal cords
  • Teach breathing patterns that prevent voice strain
  • Adjust your speaking speed and loudness
  • Promote vocal fold healing

She also recommends lifestyle changes when needed to help minimize or eliminate the strain on your child's voice.

If your child's voice sounds hoarse and doesn't improve, or it's a frequent problem, it's time to schedule an evaluation. Call Speech Success, or use the online booking feature today.