What can cause a speech delay?
A speech delay may mean that their timetable is a little different and they’ll catch up. But speech or language delays can also tell something about overall physical and intellectual development. Here are some examples.
Problems with the mouth
A speech delay can indicate an issue with the mouth, tongue, or palate. In a condition called ankyloglossia (tongue-tie), the tongue is connected to the floor of the mouth. This can make it difficult to create certain sounds, particularly:
Tongue-tie can also make it hard for infants to breastfeed.
Speech and language disorders
A 3-year-old who can comprehend and nonverbally communicate but can’t say many words may have a speech delay. One who can say a few words but can’t put them into understandable phrases may have a language delay.
Childhood apraxia of speech is a physical disorder that makes it hard to form sounds in the right sequence to form words. It doesn’t affect nonverbal communication or language comprehension.
A toddler who can’t hear well, or hears distorted speech, is likely to have difficulty forming words.
One sign of hearing loss is that your child doesn’t acknowledge a person or object when you name them but does if you use gestures.
However, signs of hearing loss may be very subtle. Sometimes a speech or language delay may be the only noticeable sign.
Lack of stimulation
We learn to speak to get in on the conversation. It’s hard to pick up on speech if no one engages with you.
Environment plays a crucial role in speech and language development. Abuse, neglect, or lack of verbal stimulation can keep a child from reaching developmental milestones.
Autism spectrum disorder
- repeating phrases (echolalia) instead of creating phrases
- repetitive behaviors
- impaired verbal and nonverbal communication
- impaired social interaction
- speech and language regression
Certain neurological disorders can affect muscles necessary for speech. These include:
In the case of cerebral palsy, hearing loss or other developmental disabilities can also affect speech.