VOICE disorders are reported in between 6 and 9 per cent of the school-aged population but their prevalence is likely to be higher, with increasing numbers of chidren referred to speech and language therapists.
Teachers have an important role to play in early identification of voice disorders, which can prevent serious damage to the vocal mechanism.
The causes for voice problems range from dehydration caused by respiratory infections and the use of inhalers to habitually loud talking, stress nd emotional elements. Often, the first sign of a disorder is persistent hoarseness lasting more than two weeks.
Research suggests that the most effective management approach towards voice problems is a partnership between therapist, child, family and teacher. And to prevent voice problems caused by performing or singing, children should be taught to use their voices with care.
The report Voice Disorders in School Children by Bernadette Boyle, published by NASEN, tel: 01827 311500.