top of page

What is the most common reason for speech delay? [Answer from SLP]

Updated: Jun 30

Speech delay is also known as 'alalia'. The term is used when a child isn't acquiring speech and language as per the expected age milestones. It often refers to delays in the development of speech or difficulty in using speech-producing mechanisms. It is one of the common developmental delays in children.

A child with speech delay often acquires other developmental milestones at the same rate as their peers.

Milestones chart for speech and language development
Image credit:

A few common causes of speech delay are:

  1. Hearing Loss- it is well understood that, in order to learn something we need to observe someone doing the task. Hence if the child can't hear you, how will he develop speech? Speech delay is quite common in long term ear infections, like chronic otitis media.

  2. Mental retardation- mental retardation accounts for about 50% of cases of speech delay in children. In this case, the child can present with global language delay, delayed hearing, and delayed use of gestures, based on the severity of mental retardation.

  3. Developmental language delay/ maturation delay- it is due to delayed neurological development required for speech. One of the prevailing concern of parents is cognitive delays. This entails both language delays and delay in development of adaptive, together known as intellectual disability. When language alone is delayed then it is known as language disorder. It is

  4. Psychosocial deprivation- the immediate environment around the child is very important for the development of speech. The quality of early care giving is also an important contributor to the language development in a child. The child who is facing abuse or neglect often lags behind in the development of speech. Psychosocial deprivation can have long term consequences like receptive language delay even upto 18 years of age.

  5. Autism- it is a neurological developmental disorder in which the child has difficulty in development in certain domains, i.e, social interaction, behavior, and learning. A major difference between speech delay and autism is communication, a child with autism will have difficulty in establishing communication either verbal or non-verbal, whereas a child with speech delay will try communicating in some way through gestures or in some non-verbal way. A child with a speech delay will have social interaction as a driving factor. However, the child with autism often lags in establishing meaningful social relationships.

  6. Developmental anomalies- congenital malformations like cleft lip, cleft palate, short frenulum, and weak palatopharyngeal muscles.

Timely evaluation and diagnosis by a specialist like a speech therapist can be very helpful for the child to overcome speech delay.

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

Follow us on Facebook, and Instagram or join our community of 18,000 parents from all across the world here, "Speech therapy guide for parents".

Read more-

Why is my 2-year-old child not talking?

Why is my 3-year-old toddler not talking?

Why is my 4-year-old toddler not talking?

Why is my 5-year-old toddler not talking?





bottom of page