Causes of Speech Delay in Children Reasons and Tips From Child Specialist Dr Junaid Jahangir Abbasi

Your child is the most valuable thing in your life and these purest beings teach us the true meaning of unconditional love. No parent in the world will deliberately ignore the development of children. Sometimes children’s development can be affected by the lack of knowledge and due attention. Speech and language development is one of the most important parts of children’s nourishment as this can impact social interactions and learning skills.

Speech is the bridge that connects children to the world and through this medium, they learn new things. Speech delay is known as difficulty in communicating the message verbally with the outer world. Speech delay is quite common in childhood as 1 in every 12 children is suffering from it. Babies start by making their own sounds and as they get older they start imitating speeches they hear and then they start talking and communicating their messages.

Symptoms of Speech Delay in Children

It is believed that if parents are unable to understand 50% of a 2-years-old child’s speech and 75% of a 3-years-old, then parents must seek professional help. Diagnosing speech delay earlier requires an understanding of speech development milestones.
Studies have shown that a child may be suffering from speech delay if he or she is unable to do the following things:

  • Saying “mama” or “daddy” at age of 12-15 months
  • Uses words to make demands like “up” or “more” at the age of 18 months
  • Asks short questions about what, why, and how at 2 years of age
  • Talks easily in sentences at 3 years of age
  • Tells a complete simple story at 4 years of age

If the child is unable to achieve these milestones, seek professional help from a pediatrician near you. The doctor will check your child’s receptive and expressive language, clarity of speech, oral-motor status, and speech development milestones.

Causes of Speech Delay in Children

Speech development in children may vary according to region but mostly the causes of speech delay in children are:

  • Oral-motor Problems

A child who has trouble controlling muscles of lips, tongue, jaw, the roof of the mouth, or the fold beneath the tongue may be suffering from speech delay. Common motor-speech disorders include dysarthria and apraxia of speech. Dysarthria is a speech disorder in which muscles that are responsible to produce verbal messages are damaged or weakened. Apraxia is the disorder in which the mechanism of speech delay is affected by the week connection between mouth mussels and brain nerves.

  • Hearing Loss

Hearing problems can also affect speech as hearing and speaking are interconnected, children start talking by mimicking sounds they hear. Multiple disorders such as chronic ear infection and otitis media can affect the quality of hearing and in turn the development of speech in children.

  • Intellectual Disability

Intellectual disability in children is a medical disorder of limitation in acquiring a certain skill set. In some cases, disorders like dyslexia are a major cause of speech delay in children. Slow development or autism can also be a cause of speech delay in children.

Other less common causes for speech delay in children can be environmental deprivation, psychological concerns like mutism, bilingual households, or being a twin.

Tips for Speech Development

Speech delays can be frustrating for both parents and children and although all speech delay disorders are not preventable, the following tips from Dr. Junaid Jahangir Abbasi are quite helpful for speech development:

  • Start talking to your child from birth and engage them by telling what you are doing, why you are doing etc.
  • Respond to the child’s babbling and murmuring
  • Sing to your child and tell them stories
  • Don’t force them to speak or act in a certain behavior always talk to them gracefully
  • Respond when they learn new words
  • Play simple one on one games
  • Talk to them in a simple and only one language

Children affected by speech delays are most likely to act and out of frustration, they anger easily. Parents should focus on a polite conversation with children and try to understand what message they are trying to convey.

Speech delays are common in preschool children and your children may not need any treatments as some are just late bloomers. The pediatrician or child specialist near you can suggest treatment if needed after diagnosing the cause of speech delay. Speech delay can be an indicator of many serious issues like hearing loss, learning disability, or other psychological issues. Diagnosing it in an early stage will definitely help in the treatment.

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