How to Identify the Early Signs of a Speech Disorder in a Child

Identifying speech disorders early is very important if you want to be able to correct them before they aggravate. The challenge parents face is knowing what is normal as children learn to speak and when they need to consult with an expert. Here are a few tips on how to identify the early signs of a speech disorder in a child. We’ll also provide general advice on how to distinguish normal linguistic trip-ups with signs of a more severe problem.

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Trouble Pronouncing Words

Children may have trouble pronouncing words for a number of reasons. Cleft palates, cleft lips, issues with motor control, hearing problems, and phonological disorders are just a few possible explanations.
Conversely, many children go through a “dysfluent” stage where they trip over words before improving. You could take steps at home to improve the matter like slowing down when you talk so that your child doesn’t trip up trying to mimic your staccato speaking style. And be patient when your child speaks so they don’t feel a need to rush what they say, increasing the odds they’ll trip up. What if your child doesn’t improve? A speech-language pathologist could assess your child and determine if speech therapy is appropriate.


Stuttering can take a variety of forms. Your child may repeat sounds involuntarily. They may repeat specific syllables. This is different than the normal pattern of repeating a word once or twice while learning how to talk about the age of two. In fact, it is normal for young children to repeat the first syllable or word. When stuttering, they repeat the word or syllable more than twice. And they repeat the same sounds across many different words. A child who is stuttering may hold out the first sound of the word like turning an “s” into a hiss or repeating “sh-sh-sh”. They may even try to speak but get stuck. This is called “blocking. Your child may have tensed facial muscles when this happens.
A normal child may repeat the first word or syllable more often when excited, tired, or upset, but they don’t repeat the same syllable when calm and collected. If a child only stutters during these periods of high emotion, don’t rush to the doctor. However, if they are constantly stuttering, if they’re struggling with blockages, or the issue hasn’t improved with time, consult with a doctor. Or you could check out a site like Stutteringdoctor.Com that offers simple techniques and exercises to correct stuttering.

Limited Vocabulary

A two-year-old child should know fifty to a hundred words. If your child is not using this many words, it could be a sign of language delay. Children between the ages of two and three should have a rapidly expanding vocabulary and be joining two words together. By three, they should have at least three-word sentences. Unfortunately, instead of talking to a professional, many parents take a ‘wait and see’ approach. However, you should seek professional help as soon as possible. Young children can benefit from early intervention, especially if the exercises are presented as games. And this can reduce both the frequency and severity of their stuttering.


There are many potential explanations for a child struggling to speak clearly. Make sure that you understand the differences between normal phases a child may outgrow to issues you need to discuss with a medical professional.

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