Speech Delay

Phonology is referred to as the study of the sounds of language. Pronunciation errors are common in children when they are learning to talk. During the child’s development stages, phonological disorders can affect a child’s ability to learn, read or spell. Speech problems are usually temporary and can often be overcome.

Types of problems with speech may include:

  • Mispronunciation: Your child often substitutes ‘f‘ or ‘d’ for ‘th’, or mixes up words. For example your child may say “I am taking abaf” instead of “I am taking a bath.”
  • Lisping: Your child may pronounce “s” as “th”. For instance, “sister” will become “thithter” and“seven” may be pronounced as “theven”. During this condition, your child pushes the tongue out while pronouncing these letters whereas normally the tongue touches the upper teeth while speaking or pronouncing these letters.
  • Stuttering: This is the repetition of certain words, sounds or phrases. In children, it is common to stutter until the age of 7 years, but sometimes it may become a permanent speech disorder. One of the causes for stuttering is genetic predisposition.
  • Flow: This condition is where your child is learning new speech skills and struggles to speak in sentences.
  • Hoarseness: This refers to a change in voice or sound because of laryngitis or upper respiratory tract infection.
  • Slurred speech and difficulty in speaking: This can develop from nerve and muscle disorders.

Some of the common speech disorders are:

  • Apraxia: It is caused due to disorders of the nervous system, which affects the child’s ability to pronounce words and produce sounds. In this condition, the brain does not send signals properly to the body parts involved in speech. For example, your child may pronounce ‘sut’ for ‘sat’.
  • Dysarthria: This is a dysfunction or impairment of the neuromotor or neuromuscular systems causing unclear speech articulation.

Infection of the upper respiratory tract may cause inflammation of the larynx, which leads to temporary loss of voice. Also, some brain, nerve and muscle disorders such as cerebral palsycan affect the organs involved in speech. Speech problems may also be caused by hearing loss, mental retardation, cancer, mutisim, deafness, vocal cord problems, and nodules or polyps. These conditions may interfere withyourchild’s ability to speak.


The best way to treat your child and improve their speech ability is by treating the underlying disease condition.

Speech therapy helps to overcome problems of stuttering and lisping. In this therapy, your child will be given speech and language tests, which will help the therapist diagnose, understand and treat the problem. Rhymes or poems, and readingbooks are used as tools to improve speech vocabulary. Sign language may betaught to supporta child who says few words, to avoid frustration. Speech therapy helps children who have trouble pronouncing letters and syllables. It includes coordination exercises that strengthen the speech muscles and guidance from the speech therapist on the proper placement of the lips and tongue. For stuttering, your child’s speech therapist will teach your child to talk in a way that he or she feels easy and relaxed.

Other ways to overcome speech problems in your child include:

  • Your child will learn how to speak by imitating you. You must speak face to face with your child rather than speaking behind your child or shouting from another room of the house.
  • Check if your child can breathe properly through the nose. If your child has an allergy, cold or sinus problems, then clear the blockage by using nasal sprays to help your child breathe through their nose with lips together.

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