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Does speech delay mean low intelligence? [Answer from SLP]

a child with speech delay and low intelligence playing with toys.

When a child presents with speech delay it can be very bothersome for a parent. An addition to this worry can be due to mixed opinions of people around them, some say the child will grow out of it and some say it can be due to low intelligence. However there hasn't been any scientific proof that a child with speech delay is less intelligent.

Speech delay is quite a common problem about 1 in every 10 children present with speech delay.

Factors contributing to speech development in a child can range from the immediate environment around them and their personality (some children are shy) to their gender, as boys are usually late talkers when compared to girls. Hence in most of the cases speech delay isn't associated with low intelligence.

However if the child presents with developmental delay, the delay in speech is often accompanied with delay in other developmental milestones also, like walking, crawling, etc. If your child presents only with speech delay, and is developing normally in other domains, the chances of speech delay affecting the child's intelligence are quite low.

As per a study, hearing loss, delay in cognitive development, lack of psychosocial stimuli cause to delayed speech. For this reason, the children who diagnosed with speech delay should be test out with age-appropriate intelligent tests in order to determine their intelligence levels.

Another study conducted by P A Silva confirmed the importance of early language delay as a predictor of lower than average intelligence and reading ability and increased behaviour problems.

Hence it is always suggestive for parents to get their child evaluated by a certified speech language pathologist/ speech therapist if they suspect speech delay in their child.

Sounderic provides online speech therapy sessions for children with various communication disorders. We would love to help you. Get in touch with us on WhatsApp at +919644466635 or schedule a consultation with us at

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