If you are concerned about possible delays in your child's verbal skills or understanding of language, consider these factors, all of which can play a role in speech and language delays.
1. Physical ImpairmentsA cleft palate is one extreme example of an oral impairment that can effect speech. Another problem that can affect speech production is having an unusually short frenulum, which is the fold that holds the tongue to the lower mouth. Physical problems like this are most often caught by your pediatrician before your child begins to start taking, but in some cases they may be missed until our child starts to see a dentist or begins to show signs of delayed speech.
2. Oral-Motor ProblemsMany kids with speech delays have a problem with communication in the areas of the brain responsible for speech production due to problems such as childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). In this case, your child may have problems controlling the muscles and parts of her body that she uses to speak. Her lips, tongue, or jaw, for instance, many not do what they "should" do to produce certain words. These types of speech problems may exists on their own or may exist along with other oral-motor difficulties such as problems eating.
3. General Developmental DelayA speech delay may be related to other developmental delays. Of course, every child hits milestones at his own pace, but you might want to speak with your pediatrician about having an assessment of your child done if you begin to notice that other skills and abilities are also developing more slowly than usual. Specifically, pay attention to whether motor, verbal, and cognitive skills are on target for your child's age level.
Speech problems related to developmental delays may include speaking very little (or not at all), seeming not to understand what is being said by others, repeating what others say, or having no emotion or inflection and intonation when speaking.