There are many reasons for speech delays beyond those involving the muscles of the face and tongue. Some of these reasons include cleft palate, accidents, mental retardation, and psychosocial deprivation. The treatment method varies depending on what the problem is. Some of the more common speech delays and concerns can be caused by such things as:
- Hearing problems: Even if your child passed a newborn screening, it's important to test again to rule out a hearing impairment.
- Stuttering: According to the Stuttering Foundation of America, around 60 percent of those that stutter have a family member that does as well, suggesting a genetic link. The SFA also reports that around 20 percent of children go through a stuttering period.
- Siblings: "Sometimes if the child has an older sibling who speaks for him, he has no need to produce articulate sounds," says Coulson. Encourage your child to speak for himself instead.
- Tonsils: Having large tonsils can cause a delay in speech because the tongue is pushed forward, making it difficult to make sounds.
- Allergies: Frequent allergy problems can play a role in speech delay. "If a child is often congested, hearing can be affected, the mouth rests open, the tongue rests forward and can become quite flaccid," says Coulson.
- Injury or Environment: There are many speech problems that can be caused by injury. "Trauma to the brain (head injury, anoxia, tumor, meningitis) can result in speech/language difficulties," says Harrison. Some of these injuries can be caused by car accidents and other such incidents.
"There are also environmental causes of speech/language problems because they impact the nervous system, such as lead poisoning," says Harrison.