What Causes Speech And Language Delays? - Best Mothers Care (2023)

The Causes of Speech and Language Delays:

There are various milestones in a child’s developmental journey; speech and language development are among them. Like sitting, walking, running is essential, so is speaking. Speech plays a vital role in a child’s behavioral and social evolution.

_____________In This Article______________

  • Difference Between Speech & Language
  • How To Differentiate Between Speech & Language Delay?
  • Types Of Speech or Language Delay.
  • Symptoms Of Speech or Language Delay.
  • table of age wise developmental milestones and speech/language delay symptoms.
  • Causes of Speech or Language Delay.
  • How Are Speech or Language Delays Diagnosed?
  • Treatment Of Speech And Language Delay.
  • Speech Therapy For Kids Online.
  • Helpful Tips For Parents By BestMothersCare.

Difference Between Speech & Language

Before we jump onto the symptoms and causes of speech delays in a child, we must be clear about the difference between Speech & Language; which is:

Speech:It is the ability to express one’s feelings and thoughts using articulate sounds.

Language:Whereas language is a system of communication to understand each other. It may be in different ways, either non-verbal or verbal or even written.

How To Differentiate Between Speech & Language Delay?

As both of these go hand in hand still, there’s a difference between speech and language developmental delay.

Languagedelay means a kid doesn’t have much vocabulary but can still utter a few words. The restriction over here is, he can not connect more than two words.

However,speechdelay is when a child can use a few words or even phrases to communicate, but decoding it gets challenging.

(Video) Speech Delays in Children | Kelly Wilber, CCC-SLP

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Types Of Speech or Language Delay

The speech and language delay is when a child can not communicate properly. It is also known as a form of communication disorder. Factually, it is not very rare; according to the University of Michigan Health System, 5 – 10 percent of toddlers and preschoolers suffer this.

There are three types of Speech or Language delays, such as;

  • Receptive:Difficulty for a child to understand and comprehend language.
  • Expressive:Difficulty for a child to verbally express and convey his thoughts.
  • Receptive & Expressive:Blend of both; tribulations for a child to understand and communicate.

Symptoms Of Speech or Language Delay

There are several signs of speech and language delay in a child, but sometimes it is arduous to decide whether the child has a speech disorder or is a late talker. The ideal scenario is to keep a close eye on the child’s growth milestones to avoid developmental delays.

To make it easier for parents, Best Mothers care thought to put up a table of age wise developmental milestones and speech/language delay symptoms:

age bracketVerbal Communication LevelSymptoms of Delayed Speech/Language
At BirthCries
2 – 3 months oldSmiles or makes soft and murmuring sounds
6 months oldBabies babble at this age and react to new sounds
8 months oldRecognize and respond to their name
10 months oldYells or make louder sounds to get attention
12 – 17 months oldBegin using 1 – 2 words, point at things, imitate familiar soundsThe child doesn’t point at anything or use any gestures like waving
18 MONTHS OLDUses 10 – 20 words vocabulary, starts combining two words, aware of body partsTries to use gestures to communicate instead of using sounds or words, unable to understand simple requests
2TSays small sentences of 2-3 words, identifies and names body parts and some pictures in the books, vocabulary increases up to >50 words, and frequently uses ‘s’ to make pluralsThe child can only make a few sounds but not any words or sentences
2.5TSays his first name and addresses himself with ‘me,’ uses short phrases with the combination of nouns and verbs, enjoys listening to the same story every dayStill can’t use words or communicate verbally in an understandable way
3TSays his first and last name, knows nursery rhymes, uses 3–4-word long sentences, can even tell stories, and has almost 1000 words vocabulary.The child can’t speak and communicate
4TIdentifies and uses past tense in 4 – 5 words long phrases, are question machines, can talk about their imaginations, and can easily be understood by caregivers and even strangersParents and caregivers even can’t understand their language

Causes of Speech or Language Delay

There are several known causes of speech or language delays. One or more causes can affect the verbal development of a child. A few possible reasons are:

Hearing Impairment:Hearing and speaking go side by side. Therefore, if a child has hearing issues, he will also develop speech or language problems. It is difficult for a child to make and imitate sounds, understand words and use them in his speech if he can’t hear properly.

(Video) 5 Signs of SPEECH DELAY in Children - SPECIAL TIPS TO PARENTS / How to know child has speech delay

Oral Impairment:This refers to the developmental issues of the tongue or the roof of the mouth called the palate. This problem results in speech development delay.

Short Frenulum:Another physical issue with the tongue causing speech delay can be a short frenulum. It is the fold under the tongue. A short frenulum restricts the tongue movement hence creating speech problems.

Neurological Problems:Traumatic brain injury can cause serious health problems such as muscular dystrophy etc., can also be the reason for speech and language delay.

Intellectual Disability:There exist several types of learning and intellectual disabilities like dyslexia. They can also cause language or speech disorders.

Selective Mutism:This is another uneasy condition because a child does not speak in distinct scenarios.

Autism:This is also a significant cause of speech or language delays.

Auditory Processing Disorder:This refers to a difficulty child faces to decode and understand speech sounds. It can get better over time using therapies.

Apraxia Of Speech:Speech disorder is when a child finds it complicated to sequence and execute speech movements.

Psychosocial Issues:Other than medical, physical, or neurological issues, psychosocial scenarios also play a vital role in the speech and language development of a child, for instance, emotional trauma, neglect, etc.

(Video) Factors of Speech & Hearing Success that needs to be noted for Hearing Impaired children

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How Are Speech or Language Delays Diagnosed?

Being parents, we are always on the edge of what is right or wrong? What are the needs and wants of our child? Same way, when it is about their health, growth, and development, we are always on our toes. Therefore, if you feel anything like speech or language delay, see a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), also called Speech Therapist, immediately. Early diagnosis can help reduce and eliminate the problem sooner.

Diagnosis Procedure:

  • A speech therapist is responsible for his diagnosis, so before making any; he will thoroughly check your child by checking the following:
  • Speech and language milestones.
  • Receptive and expressive language.
  • Your child’s oral and motor status, such as mouth, palate, and tongue functioning while speaking, eating, drinking, etc.
  • Standardized tests.

Treatment Of Speech And Language Delay

Depending on all the results and evaluations, SLP will make his diagnosis and guide you through. He might also recommend you Speech Therapy. A licensed speech therapist will judge, plan and implement the best possible treatment plan for your child depending on the type of speech or language problem he has. For any other underlying health issues connected to development, he will guide you to see a relevant health professional as well.

Speech Therapy For Kids Online

Speech therapy for kids online is now more common amid the COVID-19 crisis. When lockdowns are in place and institutes are closed, parents need some resources to help their kids’ speech and language development. A few online therapy resources are:

They have fun and kid-friendly stories, games, and printables to help their verbal and literal development.

Read More: Parenting Tips For Preschoolers Behavior

Helpful Tips For Parents By BestMothersCare

I grew up listening to,

“Mothers are the best doctors.” Being a child, I could never get it but being a parent; I do get it now; I truly believe she was always right about it.

(Video) Examples of different levels of severity in Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)

It is challenging for parents to think their child is going through such a difficult patch. But this is also true, parents are the superheroes, and we can make things better for our kids, whatever it takes! So, a few tips are as under:

What Causes Speech And Language Delays? - Best Mothers Care (1)

Read To Your Child:It is imperative. Read to your child every day. Picture books, soft or board books are beneficial. They can see the pictures while you name them.

Verbal Communication:Your focus should be on communicating with your child verbally by singing, talking, making sounds, and encouraging them to imitate them.

Make Everyday Situations Useful:Keep talking and naming everything you use; keep telling everything you do to your child. For instance, call the clothes you’re folding, name the meal you’re cooking, point out different things with their names, etc. But avoid using babyish language.

Better understanding helps speech and language development.

This summarized insight is about speech and language delay in kids. If we know the causes and get the correct diagnosis at the right time, treatment is possible.

Hats off to the parents who are dealing with this, and trust me, we have your back!!!!

(Video) The Impact of Early Emotional Neglect

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What causes language and speech delay? ›

The most common causes of speech delay include: Hearing loss. Slow development. Intellectual disability.

Can speech delay be caused by parents? ›

Delays can also be caused by neglect, abuse, or an event or circumstance that was really disruptive to development. These are atypical scenarios though that we rarely encounter. For the average parent doing their best, you can rest assured that your child's speech or language delay is definitely not your fault.

What factors affect children's speech and language delays? ›

The external factors include the environment, stimulation from family, and customs or habits, while the internal factors are maternal health during pregnancy and parental genes.

What causes speech delay other than autism? ›

Other causes of speech delay in children

Hearing problems. Apraxia of speech (speech muscle-control issues) Cognitive setbacks. Learning disabilities.

Can language delay be overcome? ›

Delays in language

Simple speech delays are sometimes temporary. They may resolve on their own or with a little extra help from family. It's important to encourage your child to "talk" to you with gestures or sounds and for you to spend lots of time playing with, reading to, and talking with your infant or toddler.

Can my child have a speech delay and not be autistic? ›

Not necessarily. While speech delays, language delays, and learning differences are often a hallmark of ASD, a speech delay by itself does not mean a child has autism. In fact, there are key differences between communication delays caused by autism and other types of speech-language disorders.

Can neglect cause speech delay? ›

Extreme environmental deprivation can cause speech delay. If a child is neglected or abused and does not hear others speaking, they will not learn to speak. Prematurity can lead to many kinds of developmental delays, including speech/language problems.

Do speech delays run in the family? ›

Often, articulation or language problems run in families. It is not uncommon for siblings to present with speech or language problems. Parents also tend to be more aware of speech and language development when their child presents with a delay.

What is the number one cause of language delay? ›

MENTAL RETARDATION. Mental retardation is the most common cause of speech delay, accounting for more than 50 percent of cases.

What are three possible causes of a language disorder in a child? ›

What causes language disorders in a child?
  • A brain disorder such as autism.
  • A brain injury or a brain tumor.
  • Birth defects such as Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, or cerebral palsy.
  • Problems in pregnancy or birth, such as poor nutrition, fetal alcohol syndrome, early (premature) birth, or low birth weight.

What is one major factor affecting language development? ›

What is one major factor affecting language development? socioeconomic status.

What activities help with speech delay? ›

Exercises for speech delays in toddlers
  • Read to them. One way to help your toddler with a speech delay is to read to them every day, as often as you can. ...
  • Speak with them. ...
  • Encourage singing. ...
  • Model self-talk. ...
  • Use drinking straws.
24 Feb 2022

Is a speech delay considered special needs? ›

Having a language or speech delay or disorder can qualify a child for early intervention (for children up to 3 years of age) and special education services (for children aged 3 years and older). Schools can do their own testing for language or speech disorders to see if a child needs intervention.

How long does it take to correct speech delay? ›

Many children who need speech therapy have an articulation or phonological processing disorder. The typical time to correct a speech difference is 15-20 hours (Jacoby et al, 2002) with typical frequency for articulation treatment being two times weekly for 30 minute sessions (ASHA 2004).

Does trauma cause speech delay? ›

Of children in the United States, 26% will witness or experience a traumatic event before they turn four. Young children exposed to five or more significant adverse experiences in the first 3 years of childhood face a 76% likelihood of having one or more delays in their language, emotional, or brain development.

What genetic disorders cause speech delays? ›

7q11. 23 duplication syndrome is a recently-documented genetic disorder associated with severe speech delay, language delay, a characteristic facies, hypotonia, developmental delay, and social anxiety.

What neurological problems cause speech delay? ›

When the brain doesn't communicate with facial muscles, a condition called apraxia, children can't move the muscles needed for speech. Another oral-motor disorder, dysarthria, occurs when the muscles controlling the face, lips, and tongue are too weak to work properly.

When do kids with speech delay catch up? ›

Some late talkers will start to catch up to their peers by the age of three, but some may continue to have difficulty with spoken language. There are many different causes of late talking, and it is often hard to pinpoint the exact cause.

Do kids outgrow speech delay? ›

Between 20–30% of Late Talkers do not grow out of their language delay. These children have ongoing difficulties and need intervention to help them with their language and literacy skills [1]. They may receive a diagnosis of language disorder.

How do you treat language delay? ›

The common treatment for language disorder is speech and language therapy. Treatment will depend on the age of your child and the cause and extent of the condition. For example, your child may participate in one-on-one treatment sessions with a speech-language therapist or attend group sessions.

Is it autism or just speech delay? ›

Children with autism often have speech delays, but speech delays alone do not mean your child has autism. Autistic speech delays usually occur along with other communication issues, such as not using gestures, not responding to their name, and not showing interest in connecting with people.

When does a language delay become a disorder? ›

A language delay occurs when a child's language skills are acquired in a typical sequence, but lag behind peers their own age. A language disorder is characterized by atypical language acquisition significantly disrupting communication across settings.

How can you tell the difference between autism or a speech delay? ›

Children with speech delays will often have difficulty producing specific speech sounds. Autistic children may also have trouble making speech sounds, but they may also use persistent repetition of words or phrases (echolalia). Children with speech delays may also have difficulty with motor skills.

What are the 4 types of child neglect? ›

  • Physical Neglect. The failure to provide necessary food, clothing, and shelter; inappropriate or lack of supervision.
  • Medical Neglect. The failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment.
  • Educational Neglect. ...
  • Emotional Neglect.
27 Dec 2018

What are three signs of neglect in a child? ›

Neglect signs and symptoms
  • Poor growth.
  • Excessive weight with medical complications that are not being adequately addressed.
  • Poor personal cleanliness.
  • Lack of clothing or supplies to meet physical needs.
  • Hoarding or stealing food.
  • Poor record of school attendance.
19 May 2022

What age is speech delay a concern? ›

By two-and-a-half years, they may have started to use two-word phrases. At age three, children can have about 200 words or more. You child may have a speech delay if, at three: They're hard to understand.

Can a speech delay be normal? ›

If your child has a speech delay, it doesn't always mean something is wrong. You may simply have a late bloomer who'll be talking your ear off in no time. A speech delay can also be due to hearing loss or underlying neurological or developmental disorders. Many types of speech delay can be effectively treated.

Can speech delay be caused by ADHD? ›

In many cases, ADHD can affect speech and communication. People with ADHD have a higher risk of articulation disorders, problems with the fluency of speech, and the overall quality and tone of their speaking voice.

What are six factors that can affect language development? ›

Factors that Influence Language Development
  • Introduction. Learning to talk is one of the most visible and important achievements of early childhood. ...
  • Subject. The nature of language knowledge. ...
  • Problems and Context. The debate. ...
  • Research Results. Predictable language sequences. ...
  • Social. ...
  • Perceptual. ...
  • Cognitive processes. ...
  • Conceptual.
1 Jan 2010

What is the main cause of language disorder? ›

Causes of language disorders include: Medical conditions or disabilities, such as autism, a brain injury, stroke or tumor. Birth defects such as Down syndrome (trisomy 21), fragile X syndrome, or cerebral palsy.

What are three common causes of speech disorders? ›

These changes may include cleft palate and tooth problems. Damage to parts of the brain or the nerves (such as from cerebral palsy) that control how the muscles work together to create speech.
It may be caused by:
  • Genetic abnormalities.
  • Emotional stress.
  • Any trauma to brain or infection.
24 Feb 2022

Can speech and language disorders be cured? ›

Many speech disorders cannot be cured, but by receiving speech and language therapy with a licensed speech pathologist, many children and adults can improve their speech or adapt to alternative communication methods.

What factors can affect a child's language and communication needs? ›

These include:
  • Health and physical development.
  • Environment.
  • Cognitive ability.
  • Biological sex.
  • Number of siblings.
  • Motivation.
12 Sept 2022

How can parents best facilitate language development? ›

The best way to encourage your child's language development is to do a lot of talking together about things that interest your child. It's all about following your child's lead as they show you what they're interested in by waving, babbling or using words. From birth, talk with your child and treat them as a talker.

What vitamins help with speech delay? ›

When used in conjunction with traditional speech therapy, you can speed your child's progress.
  • Vitamin B12 (Specifically MethylB12) Methylation is important for cognition, mood and sleep regulation, and speech development. ...
  • Folinic Acid or Folate. ...
  • Fish oils. ...
  • Carnitine, CoQ10, B6, and Magnesium.
11 Oct 2021

What food is good for speech delay? ›

Eating lots of fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds as well as healthy grass-fed meat, wild game and oily fish and avoiding processed foods, can go a very long way in maintaining a healthy balance and limiting oxidative stress.

Does TV help with speech delay? ›

Studies report a link between TV and language development in young children. The more time kids spend watching television, the more slowly they learn to talk.

Can parents cause speech delay? ›

Delays can also be caused by neglect, abuse, or an event or circumstance that was really disruptive to development. These are atypical scenarios though that we rarely encounter. For the average parent doing their best, you can rest assured that your child's speech or language delay is definitely not your fault.

What is the difference between speech delay and disorder? ›

A speech sound delay is when speech is developing in a normal sequential pattern but occurring later than is typical. A speech disorder is when mistakes are not “typical” sound errors or are unusual sound errors or error patterns.

Can stress cause delayed speech? ›

In some cases, anxiety can affect one's ability to speak clearly and concisely when interacting with others, causing speech to be slower or faster than normal, and in some cases, speech can become jumbled or slurred.

How common are speech delays? ›

Their delay may involve a combination of hearing, speech, and cognitive impairments. Speech delays in toddlers are quite common. According to the University of Michigan Health System, delayed speech or language development affects 5 to 10 percent of preschool-aged children.

Does language delay always mean autism? ›

Not necessarily. While speech delays, language delays, and learning differences are often a hallmark of ASD, a speech delay by itself does not mean a child has autism. In fact, there are key differences between communication delays caused by autism and other types of speech-language disorders.

At what age is speech considered delayed? ›

Common symptoms of a language delay include: not babbling by the age of 15 months. not talking by the age of 2 years. an inability to speak in short sentences by the age of 3 years.

What part of the brain causes speech delay? ›

Damage to a discrete part of the brain in the left frontal lobe (Broca's area) of the language-dominant hemisphere has been shown to significantly affect the use of spontaneous speech and motor speech control. Words may be uttered very slowly and poorly articulated.

Do children with language delays catch up? ›

Some children with expressive language delay "catch up" during the preschool years ("late bloomers"), whereas others have persistent delay (see 'Natural history' below). Early evaluation can help to correctly identify late-talking children who will benefit from intervention and/or additional evaluation.

What age do autistic children speak fluently? ›

Wodka's team studied 535 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who had “only a few single words at most” at age 4. By age 8, 70 percent had developed phrase or fluent speech, with 47 percent speaking fluently.

Does speech delay count as a disability? ›

If you have had a speech disorder for at least 12 consecutive months that has prevented you from working, you may qualify for Social Security Disability. The SSA will review your claim and make a disability determination based on: Meeting a disability listing in the Blue Book; or.

Does speech delay affect intelligence? ›

Children with speech delay is one of the concerns for many parents. Many opinions believe that children with delayed speech affect intelligence. However, so far, there has been no research to prove that children with speech delay are less intelligent.

Can too much TV cause speech delay? ›

It isn't so much that language delays are caused by watching television. It's that children benefit most when they engage in conversations with other people. Screen time can create problems if it displaces conversation time and other important, real-world, developmental activities.

What are early signs of neurological problems? ›

Symptoms may include:
  • Persistent or sudden onset of a headache.
  • A headache that changes or is different.
  • Loss of feeling or tingling.
  • Weakness or loss of muscle strength.
  • Loss of sight or double vision.
  • Memory loss.
  • Impaired mental ability.
  • Lack of coordination.

What brain damage causes speech problems? ›

Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, causes damage to the brain that can result in speech, language, thinking, and swallowing problems. TBI can happen at any age. Speech-language pathologists, or SLPs, can help.

Can a neurologist help with speech delay? ›

Children that have developmental disorders, such as speech delays, fine and gross motor delays, and coordination issues, may also see a neurologist. A neurologist may also treat children who have learning disabilities or learning delays.

What side of brain controls speech? ›

In general, the left hemisphere or side of the brain is responsible for language and speech. Because of this, it has been called the "dominant" hemisphere. The right hemisphere plays a large part in interpreting visual information and spatial processing.


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