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Why is My Child Not Talking Yet?

why is my child not yet talking?

As a parent, it's natural to be concerned when your toddler is not yet speaking. While some children start talking early, others take a bit more time to develop their language skills. It can also be concerning when your child is speaking, but is very difficult to understand or is developing atypical speech or language. It's important to identify the cause and seek help (sooner than later) from a professional.
In this blog post, we'll explore some possible reasons why your child might not be talking. Though identification is important, it is important to contact a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) to confirm diagnoses and to seek advice and treatment.

Common reasons why your child might not be talking include:


Language Delay

A developmental language disorder, or language delay, is a communication disorder that interferes with learning, understanding, and using language. These language difficulties are not explained by other conditions, such as hearing loss or autism, or by extenuating circumstances, such as lack of exposure to language.
If your child is not yet speaking, and other conditions and disorders (listed below) have been ruled out, your child may just have an language disorder. Oral language disorders can be receptive (what you understand), expressive (what you can express), or mixed receptive-expressive. Other language disorders can be of written language: reading comprehension or written expression.

Motor Speech Disorder

One possible reason why your toddler might not be talking yet is due to a motor speech disorder. This type of disorder affects the muscles used for speech, making it difficult for your child to articulate words properly. Motor speech disorders can be caused by a variety of factors, including brain injury, genetic conditions, or developmental delays.
Motor speech disorders include two primary conditions: dysarthria and apraxia of speech. In these conditions, the connection between the brain and the speech mechanism is damaged or interrupted. This makes it difficult to control and/or coordinate the muscles of the face, tongue, or larynx for the purposes of speaking.

Orofacial Abnormalities

Oral motor difficulties may also contribute to a toddler's delayed speech development. This refers to problems with the muscles used for speaking and eating, which can make it difficult for your child to articulate words properly. Some children may have difficulty with their speech because they were born with a problem in their mouth or face. These can be any type of growth, abnormal tissue, fistular, abnormal opening, over growth of bone or muscle, or lack of bone or muscle responsible in the production of speech. Examples of these include: cleft lip and / or palate, velopharyngeal insufficiency, an underbite or overbite, dental abnormalities or missing teeth, tongue size (including “tongue tie”), and fusion of bones.
These problems can be different for every child, but they can make it hard for them to speak clearly. Speech is made by using muscles in our mouth and face, and when these muscles are not shaped the right way or don't work the way they should, it can make it hard to talk.

Hearing Loss

Another possible reason why your toddler might not be talking yet is due to hearing loss. If your child is unable to hear properly, it can be difficult for them to develop language skills. Hearing loss can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired later in life due to chronic eat infections, other illness, injury, or exposure to loud noise. Signs of hearing loss in toddlers may include not responding to sounds, not turning their head to locate the source of a sound, or delayed language development. If you suspect that your child may have hearing loss, it's important to get your child's hearing evaluated and seek treatment with a Speech Language Pathologist, who will help improve your child's language skills with the many options for language with hearing loss.

Selective Mutism

Selective mutism is a rare but possible reason why your toddler might not be talking yet. This is an anxiety disorder where a child is capable of speaking but consistently chooses not to speak in certain situations, such as in public places or at school. Selective mutism is often misunderstood as shyness, but it's actually an anxiety disorder that can be treated with therapy. Signs of selective mutism may include a lack of speech in certain settings, difficulty making eye contact, and physical symptoms such as sweating or shaking when expected to speak. If you suspect that your child may have selective mutism, it's important to speak to a pediatric mental health professional and collaborate with your Speech Language Pathologist to improve expression. With early intervention and support, many children with selective mutism can improve their ability to speak in all settings.

Developmental / Neurological / Genetic Disorders

In some cases, a lack of speech in toddlers may be a sign of a developmental, neurological, or genetic disorder. Sometimes these disorders are the cause of the above mentioned.
Autism spectrum disorder, for example, is a condition that affects social communication and can result in delayed language development as well as social/pragmatic difficulties. Other conditions, such as cerebral palsy, down syndrome, and intellectual disability can also affect speech and language development. If you suspect that your child may have a developmental or neurological disorder, it's important to get evaluated by a neurologist, developmental pediatrician, or child psychologist for diagnosis and seek treatment with your Speech Language Pathologist.

There are several possible reasons why your toddler might not be talking yet. Though information is important, it is important to seek a professional diagnosis from a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) in order to get accurate information about treatment.
Speech Eat Learn provides FREE consultations with an SLP.

Please contact us if you're concerned about your child's speech development. With early intervention and support, many children can overcome these challenges and develop strong language skills.


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