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Chapter 6 The history of speech and language impairments

History of Special Education

ISBN: 978-0-85724-629-5, eISBN: 978-0-85724-630-1

Publication date: 28 January 2011


Writings about language and speech impairments (SLI) have been present for many centuries (Smith, 2004). Unfortunately, early historical accounts tended to reflect negatively upon individuals with SLI. For example, Van Riper and Erickson (1996) related that during the Roman times, an individual who stuttered was placed into a cage for entertainment purposes. According to these authors, citizens passing would throw coins into the person's cage to get him to talk. During the late 1800s, the profession of speech-language pathology began as an avocation of certain professionals, notably doctors, educators, and elocutionists (public speakers), who were interested in helping others improve their speech. American doctors studied under the auspices of European doctors who treated people with communication disorders. The two most common disorders that were treated then were dysfluency (stuttering) and speech sound errors (articulation) (Duchan, 2002). Treatment was available for the above disorders, however, the programs were not in public schools and the results of intervention were mixed (Smith, 2004).


Green, S.L. and Scott, C.M. (2011), "Chapter 6 The history of speech and language impairments", Rotatori, A.F., Obiakor, F.E. and Bakken, J.P. (Ed.) History of Special Education (Advances in Special Education, Vol. 21), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 119-149.



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