Voice disorders in children may significantly impair a child's speech intelligibility and negatively affect his ability to functionally communicate. A voice disorder occurs when the vocal cords do not function appropriately and cause the voice to have an unclear sound, sometimes described as "hoarse," "raspy," or "breathy."

Your child may benefit from a voice evaluation if they have any of the following symptoms:

  • Chronic hoarseness or breathiness
  • Frequent breaks in pitch
  • Chronic, excessive soft vocal quality or loud vocal quality
  • Pitch that is too low or too high for age and/or gender
  • Hyponasality or hypernasality
  • Frequent throat clearing/coughing excessively 

An otolaryngologist (ENT physician) will examine your child's vocal cords to determine the cause of their voice problem. One of the ways to assess your child's voice is by passing a small camera and light through the nose or mouth in order to see the vocal cords. This will provide valuable information related to any medical reason for the voice disorder (vocal cord nodules, vocal cord polyps, paralyzed vocal cord, etc.).

The Speech-Language Pathology Department at Arkansas Children's provides evaluation services for young children and teenagers who have been diagnosed with a voice disorder. By obtaining an in-depth case history and performing a clinical assessment, the speech pathologist will gain further information to assess if the child is misusing, overusing, or "abusing" the voice. Good vocal hygiene will also be addressed. Many different approaches to voice therapy can be recommended and should be tailored to the individual child. The speech pathologists at Arkansas Children's will consult with the child's local speech pathologist as needed. A young person's voice is a reflection of who he/she is and therapy should be positive and enjoyable.