What Causes Speech Delay?

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What Are Speech or Language Delays

What Causes Speech Delay?

A delay in speech may suggest a different schedule with the possibility of eventually achieving the goal. However, delays in speech or language can also give information about overall physical and cognitive development. Displayed below are a few examples.

Possible causes of a delayed speech could be:

  • Difficulties related to the tongue or the roof of the mouth, such as oral impairments.
  • The range of motion of the tongue can be limited by a fold under the tongue known as a short frenulum.

Speech delays in children often arise from difficulties with oral-motor functionality. Difficulties can occur when the brain regions associated with speech encounter challenges, resulting in a lack of coordination between the lips, tongue, and jaw required for producing speech sounds. In addition, these children may also have oral-motor problems such as difficulties with feeding.

Difficulties with hearing can have an impact on a person’s ability to speak. It is important for audiologists to perform hearing tests on children when there are concerns about speech. Children with hearing difficulties may face challenges in communication, understanding others, imitating speech, and using language effectively.

The presence of ear infections, especially chronic infections, does not necessarily affect the normal development of speech and language, as long as there is unaffected hearing in at least one ear.


What Are Speech or Language Delays?

There are both similarities and differences between speech and language disorders, with some overlap between the two. An example of this is:

  • A child with a language delay may have difficulty combining more than two words in their communication, despite being able to speak individual words proficiently.
  • A child with speech delay may have difficulty being understood even when trying to communicate using words and phrases.


What signs indicate a delay in speech or language development?

Parents frequently face challenges in determining if their child’s speech or language milestones are typical or if they suggest a potential issue. If a baby does not respond or show signs of vocalizing, it is important for parents or caregivers seek immediate medical attention.

Please be aware of the following signs. Notify your physician if your child:

  • Within one year, the infant has not yet developed the ability to use gestures for communication or farewell.
  • At 18 months old, children tend to start using gestures more than vocalizations as their main way of communicating.
  • Children typically have difficulty imitating sounds around 18 months.
  • Difficulties can occur when trying to understand simple verbal requests.
  • After 2 years, the child’s ability to imitate speech or actions develops, but they do not spontaneously generate words or phrases.
  • After a period of two years, individuals have a limited vocabulary and struggle to communicate beyond basic needs.
  • The individual was unable to follow simple directions for a period of two years.
  • After 2 years, an individual may develop an unusual tone of voice, such as a raspy or nasal sound.

If your child’s speech appears to be more difficult to understand than expected for their age, it is recommended to consult a doctor:

  • At the age of 2, parents and regular caregivers typically understand about 50% of a child’s speech, while at 3 years old, they understand about 75% of what the child says.
  • By the age of four, a child’s speech should generally be understandable to people who are not familiar with them.


How Are Speech or Language Delays Diagnosed?

If you suspect that your child may have a potential issue, it is important to promptly seek assistance from a speech-language pathologist (SLP). You have the choice to find a speech-language pathologist on your own or ask your healthcare provider for a recommendation.

The SLP, or speech therapist, will conduct an assessment of your child’s speech and language abilities. The pathologist will conduct standardized assessments to determine important milestones in your child’s speech and language development.

The SLP will also carry out an examination to ensure:

  • The child’s language comprehension level, also referred to as receptive language.
  • Expressive language refers to the verbal abilities demonstrated by a child.
  • Improved speech clarity and effective pronunciation

The oral-motor condition of your child, which involves the coordination and functionality of the mouth, tongue, and palate, is important for speech, eating, and swallowing.

Speech therapy may be recommended for your child by the speech-language pathologist after reviewing the test results.


How Can Parents Help?

Assisting children with speech or language disorders requires the important involvement of parents.

Explore different methods for enhancing speech development in a home setting:

  • Focus on communication: Encourage interactive communication with your child, sing together, and inspire them with different sounds and movements.
  • Read to your child: Encourage the habit of reading from a young age as your child grows. Look for books that are easy to read, or visually captivating, to inspire young minds to observe while you narrate the images.
  • Use everyday situations: Improving your child’s speech and language skills can be achieved by maintaining consistent conversation throughout the day. Labeling food items while shopping at the grocery store, describing actions while cooking or tidying a room, and emphasizing various objects within your home can be helpful. It is important to prioritize simplicity in your communication, while avoiding the use of baby talk.

The most effective approach involves quickly identifying and addressing developmental delays. If you have any concerns about your child’s speech or language development, it is important to reach out to your healthcare provider.

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