The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reported that approximately 5% of U.S. children have noticeable speech disorders by the time they enter 1st grade. Roughly 3 million Americans stutter, most of whom are between the ages of 2- and 6-years-old. Boys are 3 times more likely than girls to develop a stutter (2016).
In many cases, children will grow out of stuttering and develop normal speech patterns to communicate with others. However, stuttering is not the only speech problem that impacts children. Below are some causes for speech delay during childhood:
Speech Sound Disorder: A child may experience troubles with making sounds or saying certain words past the age they are expected to. “Speech Sound Disorder” has become an umbrella term that describes a wide array of causes for this speech delay. Visit the ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) for more information.
Speech Motor Disorders: There are two common types of speech motor disorders: dysarthria and apraxia. Dysarthria refers to slowed speech due to muscle impairment of the face (muscle weakness, nerve damage brain damage are common causes). Apraxia is difficulty coordinating, planning, and sequencing muscle groups of the face and mouth to accurately produce speech (Northwestern Communication, 2019).
Deafness: Complete deafness or even chronic ear infections can impact a child’s ability to learn speech components to form language.
Respiratory Disorders: A child will struggle with producing sounds if they are unable to sufficiently produce enough air to talk.
Developmental Disorders: Autism, Down syndrome, mutism, expressive language disorder, and intellectual disability are just a small number of developmental disorders that can delay speech development.
Brain Injury: Traumatic, anoxic, prenatal, inflammation, and infection injury of brain tissue can also drastically delay or change speech development.
Neglect, Abandonment, or Abuse: Some children who are seen by speech therapists for intervention experience abuse at home. Traumatic environments can lead to unhealthy brain development which can directly worsen speech (Welc, 2010).
What type of issues do speech pathologists address?
If you or your pediatrician suspect symptoms of speech delay in your child, it is time to get a referral to see a speech language pathologist (SLP). For those who are unfamiliar with this profession, SLPs provide services for a lot more than just speech delays. Highly certified and experienced SLPs can also address the following issues across the lifespan: language, cognition, swallowing, feeding, fluency, voice production, resonance, and auditory (hearing) rehabilitation. SLPs are also licensed to write speech-related treatment orders as well as make diagnoses specific to speech, swallowing, and language.
What do I do next?
You have observed your child and communicated with your pediatrician. Maybe your child has been referred to speech therapy, or maybe you are now on your own to find one. What do you do next?
You can proactively start the research on your own and find services that are high quality and convenient for your entire family. Visit our therapist search page and browse our therapists’ profiles and credentials. Once you find a therapist who you like, you can view their schedule in real time and book right away. The sooner your child receives services for speech delay, the faster they can maximize his or her potential so they can participate in activities and relationships that matter most to your family.
Enablr Therapy providers are knowledgeable and gifted at working with kids of all ages and abilities. We provide in-person therapy services in the Nashville Metro area and live video therapy sessions for clients throughout the states of Tennessee. To learn more how Enablr Therapy works with kids, view our therapy services page!
Statistics on Voice, Speech, and Language (2016). National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/statistics-voice-speech-and-language#2. Viewed on June 18, 2019.
Language Development: Speech Milestones for Babies. (2019). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/language-development/art-20045163. Viewed on June 18, 2019.
Age-appropriate speech and Hearing Milestones. (2019). John Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/hearing-loss/ageappropriate-speech-and-hearing-milestones. Viewed on June 18, 2019.
How does your child hear and talk? (n.d.) Available from the website of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association: “https://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/chart.htm”. All rights reserved. Viewed on June 18, 2019.
Motor speech disorders: Apraxia and dysarthria. Northwestern Communication: Center for Audiology, Speech, Language, and Learning. https://nucasll.northwestern.edu/motor-speech-disorders. Viewed on June 18, 2019.
Welc, J.B. (2010). Understanding the Impact of Abuse and Neglect on Speech and Language Development. https://www.asha.org/Events/convention/handouts/2010/1206-Welc-Julia/. Viewed on June 18, 2019.
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