Children are at risk of developing voice difficulties as their vocal folds (cords) are not fully formed until they are 16 year’s old. The most common voice complaint is muscle tension dysphonia with lesions (vocal fold nodules). Children may have more complex voice difficulties as a result of other medical conditions.
A child needs to be able to express themselves freely for all vocal tasks. The voice should be free and feel comfortable. Children often find it more difficult to self-regulate than adults and may shout and scream more than adults and use their voice forcefully to express their emotions rather than words in calmer conversation.
Children may also have a high vocal load in the primary school years when their vocal folds are still developing, such as singing and acting and sports that use the voice forcefully. Other children may put themselves under pressure to perform well and the anxiety and stress in their lives may be reflected in their voice.
Voice therapy for children who need to adjust how they use their voice involves understanding what the voice is, how they should use it so that the voice is free and comfortable. Regular practice of new vocal patterns, using a gentle, efficient voice across a wide range of contexts and addressing any psychosocial difficulties affecting the voice usually resolves the voice difficulties. Therapy needs to be systemic, involving the family and school to support the child.
Therapy is made to be fun and meaningful for the child and takes into account the child and family’s life-style. Please contact the Voice and Communication Clinic if you would like to find out more.