What causes speech and language difficulties in children?

There are many reasons why a child has a communication difficulty. Communication difficulties can be primary or secondary.


Primary Speech Sound Disorders may be present without any other medical or developmental condition. There is often a family history of speech difficulties.


Secondary Speech Sound Disorders are caused by other contributing factors. These may include medical causes such as tongue tie (anklyoglossia), cleft/lip palate, hearing impairment, or fluctuating hearing loss due to otitis media, or genetic syndromes.


Developmental Language Disorder is a primary language deficit. There are no underlying developmental or cognitive difficulties. A child with DLD will have many strengths but has difficulties understanding what is being said to them, and/or putting their ideas and thoughts into words. It is a lifelong disability that has implications for learning at school, mental health and employment. However, with the right support, children with DLD can learn, socialise and sustain meaningful employment.


Language Disorder may also be due to another underlying medical or developmental condition such as hearing impairment, an intellectual impairment, autism spectrum, global developmental delay and other genetic syndromes. With the appropriate support, a child with a secondary language disorder can also learn to read and write, and participate and contribute to our communities.


There are some excellent resources available from Speech Pathology Australia and RADLD, SALDA, DLDandme


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