All You Need To Know About Speech Sound Disorder

Last Update on October 30, 2023 : Published on October 30, 2023
Speech sound disorder

Does your child experience difficulty in using different sounds or patterns related to your language? Or Is your child not able to articulate or learn language? Are you worried about your child’s communication abilities as compared to the same age group? Well, if yes, your child might be experiencing speech developmental disorders. Such speech-related disorders often indicate difficulties with motor speech. 

It specifically happens when the child is not able to move the required muscles for speech. Additionally, some children also struggle with reduced coordination while trying to speak. Basically, speech sound disorders are identified in a child when the speech patterns do not correspond while speaking. In this blog, let’s take a look at what speech sound disorder is, its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment. So, let’s get started! 

What is Speech Sound Disorder?

Generally, speech impairments or impediments are a common issue faced by toddlers. According to statistics, around 2% to 13% of children struggle with speech impediments. Speech sound disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that usually revolves around difficulty while writing or reading.

This can impair academic performance. Stuttering is one of the most common examples or signs of speech sound disorder. Stuttering can revolve around physical or behavioral symptoms such as rapid blinking, lip tremors, tension, sudden head movements, or clenched fists.

Moreover, speech sound disorders can also be identified through lisping. A child struggling with speech sound disorder might avoid phrases or words which can result in anxiety, social anxiety, stress, or severe disfluency. 

Types of Speech Sound Disorder

According to medical professionals or speech therapists, a child or a toddler must be able to speak at least half of the words with proper understanding.

Additionally, by the age of four or five, a child must be pronouncing words associated with the sounds “r”, “s”, “l”, and “v” properly. By the time children turn eight, they must be able to pronounce hard words as well.

If you’re a parent of a child with speaking difficulties, you must take a look at the below-listed type to recognize important signals related to speech sound disorders: 

1. Apraxia:

Apraxia develops when a child lacks the motor skills used for the protection of sound. Childhood apraxia makes a child have difficulty in producing or planning sounds from the lips, tongue, jaw, or other palates required for speech sounds. 

2. Articulation disorder:

Articulation disorder develops when a child is not able to properly produce sounds due to various factors such as movements from the throat, lips, or tongue, inexact placement, speed, or even pressure. 

3. Disfluency:

Disfluency is developed when there are interruptions while speaking. Disfluency mostly occurs due to stuttering, which is generally followed by recurring breaks during speech.

If the child has crossed the age of four, disfluency can be recognized by the constant repetition of phrases or words while speaking. Such children repeat sounds or words and additionally, they also pronounce words longer.

Moreover, disfluency can also be identified through constant blinking or head jerking while speaking. Children with such disorders also feel embarrassed, stressed, or anxious due to disfluent interactions. 

4. Phonological disorder:

Phonological disorder is developed due to the inability to make sounds expected of their age. This disorder can be recognized by difficulty or mistakes while producing words or sounds. Additionally, a child might speak consonants more while speaking. 

5. Voice disorder:

Voice disorder is developed when a child starts producing a raspy voice. Raspiness can be a major sign of voice disorder. Additionally, extremely soft voice, changes in pitch, or loud voice can be major signs of a voice disorder. Moreover, children with heavy breathing while communicating might also be at risk of developing voice disorders. 

Symptoms of Speech Sound Disorder

While looking for speech sound disorder symptoms in children, it’s important to know that symptoms associated with speech impediments develop at different rates. Such symptoms can revolve around the disability to pronounce or produce different words or sounds simultaneously.

Scientifically, speech sound disorders may be manifested in different ways. The symptoms of speech sound disorder usually depend on various factors such as challenges, impairments, or severity. Below are some of the common signs and symptoms of speech sound disorder: 

  • Constantly repeats words or sounds 
  • Constant stuttering 
  • Constantly takes a lot of pauses while trying to speak something 
  • Difficulty pronouncing hard words and replacing them with an alternative that does not add the actual meaning 
  • Difficulty speaking the words with the same sounds such as nit, kit, or sit
  • Difficulty speaking lengthy words 
  • Difficulty speaking or producing the right words or sounds 
  • Excessive blinking while speaking 
  • Excessive and rapid breathing while trying to speak 
  • Feeling shy or ashamed while trying to speak 
  • Pronouncing a word without the major sound 
  • Pronouncing a word by adding extra sounds to it 
  • Produces jerks while speaking 
  • Raspiness 

Causes of Speech Sound Disorder

Research shows that as of now there’s no exact cause known behind the development of speech sound disorder, however, there could be various factors that may lead to speech impediments such as: 

1. Brain damage:

Research shows that speech-related disorders can also develop due to trauma or infection in a child’s brain. Some traumas or infections can injure speech-related muscles present in the brain. 

2. Family history:

Family history, genetics, or heredity plays an important role in the development of speech disorders. 

3. Gender:

Studies show that male children are at a high risk of developing speech sound disorder. 

4. Mental health disabilities:

Mental health disorders such as autism, down syndrome, or dementia can also put someone at risk of developing speech sound disorders.  

5. Socioeconomic factors:

Some socioeconomic factors such as poverty or literacy may also contribute to speech disorders. 

6. Pregnancy or post-pregnancy factors:

Research shows that difficulties experienced during pregnancy or post-pregnancy such as stressors, infections, or others can put the baby at the risk of developing speech disorders in infants. Additionally, premature birth, low birth weight, and delivery-related complications can also result in speech sound disorders. 

7. Physical health-related issues:

Physically challenged children or children born with a cleft lift might develop the risk of speech sound disorder. 

Diagnosis of Speech Sound Disorder

In order to be diagnosed with speech sound disorder, it’s important to follow the criteria listed under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-5). Only, an experienced speech pathologist can make the right diagnosis for speech sound disorder. Below are the criteria listed under the DSM-5 for diagnosing speech sound disorder: 

  • The child must be experiencing difficulty with speech comprehension and communication. 
  • The symptoms associated with speech sound disorder must have appeared in the early developmental stages of the child. 
  • The symptoms must revolve around limited communication, social interaction, job performance, or academic achievements. 
  • The disorder must not collide with the presence of other health conditions like autism, hearing problems, dementia, and others. 

Treatment of Speech Sound Disorder

If you think your child might be at risk of developing or might be struggling with speech sound disorders, it’s important to connect with a child paediatrician for developmental assessment or a speech pathologist for a proper diagnosis of speech sound disorder. In such cases, Calm Sage would strongly recommend you show excessive concern for the issues and connect with a physician for a proper diagnosis. 

Why is getting treatment for speech sound disorders important?

Psychologically, it is really important to treat speech disorders, as the consequences can lead to language impediments based on the severity, symptoms, or type. Therefore, it’s important to seek professional support especially for moderate to severe cases. Below listed are some of the consequences faced by a child due to untreated speech sound disorders: 

If you’re a parent of a child with speech sound disorder, it’s also important to listen to their needs, let them speak their heart out, and show usual care during the treatment process so that they can feel loved, supported, and cared for. 

Moreover, you can also take the support of online speech therapy programs for better assistance, learning, and support for your child throughout the process. Moreover, if you think you or your child is not able to get through the process mentally, you can always join a support group or connect with a mental health professional for family counseling or child counseling. 

To connect with a mental health professional through online platforms, click below: 


Great for a large network of licensed therapists

  • $60 to $90/week, billed every 4 weeks

  • Therapy via messaging, phone, or live video chat

  • Flexible cancellation at any time

20% off your first month


Great for CBT Based therapists

  • $40/week, billed every 4 weeks

  • Therapy via messaging, phone, or live video chat

  • Specialization for CBT based Therapy

20% off your first month


Best for Treatment Plants

  • $60 to $90/week, billed every 4 weeks

  • Therapy via messaging, phone, or live video chat

  • Flexible cancellation at any time

$100 off your first month with code SPACE

A word from the Author!

As a parent, it can become overwhelming or frustrating to see your child struggling. However, it’s more important to know that speech sound disorders are treatable and can be taken care of with proper supervision or assistance. but, with the right support from parents, a child can become mentally strong to speak through their challenges and frustrations.

No matter what, always try to be there for your children and make them feel loved so that they can put themselves on the journey of self-healing mentally and physically. 

I hope this blog helps you understand everything you want to learn about speech sound disorder. comment down and share your queries or you can also write to us at Calm Sage. For more such content, connect with us through all social media platforms. 

Thanks for reading! 

About The Author

Aayushi Kapoor
Aayushi Kapoor

Aayushi is a Content Creator at Calm Sage. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Her constant interest in the improvement of mental health, nutrition, and overall wellness embarked upon her career as a “full-time educational writer.” She likes to make an asynchronous connection with her readers. Her mantra for living life is "What you seek is seeking you".

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

As Seen On