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What Causes Speech and Language Delays in Children? The Top 8

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Discovering Speech & Language Delays in Children is Essential

Government data shows that approximately 1 in 12 U.S. children between the ages of 3 and 17 have a disorder related to speech, language, swallowing, or voice. To be sure, some child speech and language delays in children are caused by congenital conditions like Down Syndrome. Still, those problems are often discovered around age 2, around the time that a parent notices the child is falling behind other children the same age.

Child speech delays and language disorders can often prove to be somewhat deceptive because similar observable problems can stem from entirely different causes. Parents and caregivers must understand what the various causes might be, and realize that only a comprehensive and professional evaluation can be the basis of an accurate diagnosis and a clinically-proven prescription for treatment.

What’s more, it is essential to know that many of these conditions aren’t self-corrective thus won’t somehow become resolved without active intervention. The sooner that the child can be evaluated, diagnosed, and begin Speech-Language Therapy, be it remote therapy or face-to-face, the better will be the long-term prognosis.

Problems related to a child’s ability to communicate must be dealt with as soon as possible because the inability to communicate, or even being challenged in this area, can have undesirable repercussions for the child’s future. Children with unresolved communication problems invariably have social, educational, and psychological issues as well. They can have a much tougher time navigating through life.

8 Causes of Speech and Language Delays in Children

Aside from the fact that it is often difficult to decipher the cause of your child’s speech or language delay, the delay itself may not be apparent right away. While a full evaluation is needed to determine the exact cause, regardless, clinicians who deliver either online speech therapy or face-to-face can often begin working with your child by merely treating the symptoms.

The most common reasons for speech-language therapy:

1. General Speech-Language Delay

General Speech-Language Delay can be one of the most easily-remedied conditions. This occurs when the child is lagging behind the developmental pace of his/her peers. Since this often is temporary, it can be addressed with therapy and reinforcement in other settings (home, school, etc.).

2. Expressive Language Disorders

An expressive language disorder is a condition in which a child is subpar in his/her ability in using vocabulary, saying complex sentences, and producing words. At the same time, however, that same child may have the standard language skills needed to understand written or verbal communication.

3. Receptive Language Disorders

Children with a receptive language disorder find it challenging to understand what is said to them. While the symptoms vary from one child to the next, in general, problems with language comprehension begin before the child is three years old.

4. Autism

Autism now afflicts 1 in 59 children and 1 in 37 boys in the U.S. It is a developmental disorder that impairs a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others.

The range and severity of autism symptoms often vary widely. The most common symptoms include difficulty communicating, extreme challenges with social interactions, obsessions, sensory issues, and chronic repetitive behaviors.

Communication problems include expressive and receptive language delays. And these problems can quickly become long-time struggles without early intervention, face-to-face or online speech therapy, and occupational therapy.

5. Intellectual Deficiency

Cognitive disabilities, which generally result from either Down Syndrome or a traumatic brain injury, are usually accompanied by some disruption or delay in speech. Although speech therapy by itself won’t necessarily solve all of the problems, without speech therapy, the other challenges may become exacerbated.

6. Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a speech disorder that results from the child’s brain having difficulty coordinating complex oral movements. It is necessary to connect sounds into syllables, those syllables into words, and those words into phrases. Children with apraxia are severely challenged by this sequence. The source of the problem is in the brain, not in the muscles.

Because children who suffer from apraxia of speech struggle to make the right sounds for the right words, their articulation is compromised. Thus it is difficult for others to understand them.

7. Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy impairs movement, muscle tone, and motor skills. This affects a child’s capacity to move in a way that is coordinated and purposeful, which affects speech as well. The cause is often brain damage that occurred either during birth or when the child was very young.

8. Dysarthria

Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder. It is caused by damage to muscles that are required to produce speech. When these muscles are damaged, paralyzed or compromised in some way, the child cannot control his/her tongue, larynx, vocal cords, and surrounding muscles so it becomes difficult to formulate and pronounce words.

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