Signs & Symptoms

Voice Quality

Is your child using an odd sounding voice?

If your child’s voice sounds funny, there could be three primary issues.

First, your child may use an odd pitch and tone. Perhaps, your child sounds like he is singing a song when he is telling a story about his day. Or, your child may unintentionally sound like a robot. This symptom may be a sign of a neurodevelopmental disability.

Another possibility is that your child’s voice sounds raspy or throaty. Sometimes, kids have acid reflux or allergies that can affect voice and make them sound like they have a gruff sounding voice. Your child might sound tired even when he is not.

Allergy season might bring more complaints of throat pain, or you may notice more phlegm production and throat clearing, which can affect the tone of voice. If you notice your child is frequently clearing his or her throat and is complaining of burning in the throat, voice issues may be a concern.

The third possibility is that your child’s voice sounds ‘hard’ and loud, almost like he or she is yelling all the time. The beginnings of sentences may sound harsh. Voice disorders can be common in young children or school-aged children due to vocal abuse or frequent yelling. This symptom is most commonly seen in little boys who use aggressive-sounding voice tactics, such as yelling loudly.

These loud and intense sounds force the vocal chords to slam together and create “hard voicing.” Hard voicing occurs when the child coughs, bears down for a bowel movement, yells, or starts speaking with force. Your child might have voice issues if you notice your child has a raspy voice or rough voice when compared to others her age.

What do challenges with Voice Quality look like?

  • Sounding hoarse?
  • Using a gruff voice?
  • Sounding like he has the voice of someone older?
  • Always clearing his throat?
  • Complaining that his throat hurts?
  • Sounding strained or tired?
  • Seeming like he has laryngitis all the time?
  • Being described as having a wobbly voice or a scratchy voice?

Why is Voice Quality happening?

Voice issues can be observed when a person has an unusual pitch, tone, volume or rhythm of speech. Voice is tested by hearing someone speak. A person who uses an odd voice will sound different, and may have a voice that irritates others. Words may come across in a high or low in pitch or volume. A child who talks really loud in the movie theater or library is using an odd tone of voice for the situation. Some individuals sound shaky or raspy when they talk. Another sign of concern is if a person’s voice sounds robotic or “sing-songy.” Voice issues are important because they are often related to other social symptoms. A psychologist or speech therapist can help with these challenges.

How can I manage Voice Quality at home?

If your child has an odd prosody, pitch or tone, it might be necessary to consider a psychological evaluation. If your child’s voice sounds like a robot or like he is singing a song while telling a story, autism should be a consideration.

If you suspect your child may have a voice disorder, talk to your pediatrician and get a consultation to see an ear nose and throat (ENT) doctor. An ENT doctor will make recommendations and can refer you to a speech pathologist specializing in vocal rehabilitation.

Voice rehabilitation focuses on reducing or eliminating vocal abusive behavior, such as yelling and consumption of irritants. Clinicians working in vocal rehabilitation will help your child with relaxation, timing, rate, rhythm change, pitch and loudness monitoring.

Treatent can include decreasing abusive behaviors, performing vocal chord exercises, treating allergies, avoiding allergens, treating reflux, and treating vocal nodules if they exist on the vocal chords by following a regimen created by a speech pathologist and ENT doctor.

While in treatment, it is a good idea to talk to your child’s teacher about his behaviors in class and on the playground to keep track of vocal abuse. At home, keep a chart to monitor yelling, aggressive vocal behaviors, and observation of symptoms consistent with allergies or reflux.

You can even use a bell or other method to encourage your child to get your attention at home instead of yelling, for example. Consistent compliance with exercises and regular checkups with the ENT doctor will help to improve a child’s voice issues.

The monitoring of symptoms will, with time, show improved voice quality. Regular adherence to a treatment plan of this nature can decrease any roughness of voice and can improve overall communication skills.

How can Clear Child Psychology help with Voice Quality?

If your child is struggling with this symptom to the point that it is getting in the way of his or her learning, relationships, or happiness, it’s time to seek professional help.

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