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Speech Impediments in Children

By Victoria Weinblatt ; Updated June 13, 2017

Your child’s teacher may be the first person to recognize your child has speech impediment. It is common for children to stutter and use “baby talk” during their formative years as they learn to speak. If this behavior persists into elementary school, talk to your health professional about hearing tests and consulting with a speech and language therapist.

Types

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association lists three types of speech impediments in children. Articulation disorders cause children to have difficulty pronouncing sounds to the point that they are not understood. A fluency disorder, stuttering for example, inhibits the normal flow of speech and results in abnormal stoppages, repetitions and prolonging sounds according to information provided by KidsHealth website. It explains resonance disorders, the third type, cause children to involuntarily alter the pitch or volume of their voice, which may actually cause them pain and discomfort.

Causes

Children have speech impediments for a number of reasons, including congenital health conditions, such as poor hearing and a cleft-palate. Other causes are birth defects that effect the muscles and bones of the face, as well as the digestive system, according to information provided by myStudentHealthZone website. Genetics may cause some speech impediments, like stuttering, which seems to run in families.

Remediation Strategies

With special strategies implemented by a speech language therapist, your child works to overcome and improve speech impediments. She may engage your son in language intervention activities, where she uses conversation to model correct pronunciation. In articulation therapy the SLT physically shows him how to make sounds by placing the tongue in certain places in the mouth and forming correct shapes with his lips. Exercises and massage may also be a part of the remediation strategy.

Stuttering

Although approximately 5 percent of children aged 2 to 5 stutter for a brief amount of time, according to researchers from the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at the Steinhardt School of Culture at New York University, less than 1 percent develop stuttering as a speech impediment that persists into adulthood. Stutterers hesitate, repeat words and create prolonged sounds within words.

Lisping

When children have a lisp, according to information provided by Speech-Language-Therapy.com, they protrude their tongue between the front teeth while producing “s” and “z” sounds. This speech impediment responds successfully to treatment in motivated children, but the cause is unknown. In theory the child has difficulty producing a particular sound and thus learns how to pronounce it the wrong way. Now, the incorrect pronunciation has become a habit resulting in the lisp.

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