Question: My 3 year old son speaks with an extremely hi-pitched voice. (he did that from when he was an infant) He does sometimes talk with a normal voice tooo,but very little. I don’t know if he can imitate a deep voice at all. He was just seen by a local voice therapist who told us that he is too young for voice therapy and his voice might change over the next year or two. I am wondering:
a. At what age is it recommended to start therapy for a hi-pitched voice?
b. Won’t his vocal chords get strained if continues talking like this?
c. Why can’t we start therapy now even if his voice might change later?
Can therapy at a young age be counter-effective? Thank you very much! H.B.
Answer: Thank you for your question- and again- please note that I can’t give a specific medical answer to your individual questions without examining your child- Please consult with your physician for specifics.
An unusually high pitched voice in a child should be evaluated by your pediatrician and a competent ear nose and throat physician- It rarely may be a symptom of a serious medical problem- anything from a paralyzed vocal cord- to problems in the central nervous system or brain..
Once we are assured that this is not the sign of anything worrisome, I would not suggest therapy at an early age for a high pitched voice. This may be normal and hereditary in a child- and speech therapy is unlikely to be effective for this at an early age. It seems unlikely that a three year old, let a lone an infant, would be speaking primarily at other than his or her normal pitch.
Voice is a complex tone comprising many frequencies. The lowest frequency, in Hz, is what we perceive as pitch. As we know, the vocal pitch changes dramatically in boys around the time of puberty- and only if it persists at that point would I suggest speech therapy. Therapy at a young age is unlikely to be successful, and likely to bring attention to the issue- and make the child feel more self conscious about his voice. If this is becoming a difficult social issue among his peers (not his parents) I would then consider speech therapy at an earlier age. Young adults have a frequency range of 2 and a half to 3 octaves. Therapy would be aimed at having one speak at the lower end of his range.
Today, there is also a simple out patient surgical procedure that relaxes the vocal cord (type III thyroplasty) and can effectively lower one’s fundamental frequency (nomal pitch). This would only be offered to adults because of the likelihood of maturational changes in voice. You can contact us at the NY Voice Center for more information..
Robert L. Pincus MD