Factors Affecting Children's Language Development

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There are many factors that can affect a child's language development, including the child's inability to hear, which may go undetected, or lack of stimulation from his caretakers.

If a child does not interact with his parents or those in charge of his care, he may not develop language skills as quickly or adeptly as the child who is routinely exposed to speech.

Language and Speech Development and Delays

There is a distinction between speech and language. Speech is the verbal expression of language whereas language is the system of receiving informing and expressing information in a way that is understandable. Language also encompasses nonverbal as well as written and verbal communication. A child who has problems with language may be capable of pronouncing words but can't put two words together. Other children may be hard to understand when they are speaking but are capable of using the appropriate phrases and words to express ideas. They are exhibiting speech problems.

Delayed speech and language development are very common and affect between 5 and 10 per cent of preschool kids, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Language involves sounds rather than the meaning of words. Language delays are more critical than speech issues because language is a measure of intelligence. Your child's language development is considered delayed when it is developing in the right order but at a slower rate than her peers.

Language and speech delays can occur because the brain is working in a different fashion. If a child is born prematurely, this can impact her development. Auditory processing disorders sometimes happen, which means the child has a hard time decoding speech sounds. If a child is autistic this affects her ability to speak. A condition called apraxia of speech means that the child has difficulty sequencing and then executing speech movements. Some children are selectively mute and refuse to speak even though they can.

Hearing and Oral Impairments

When a child can't hear, his language and speech development is delayed. Hearing impairment may cause difficulty in understanding, imitating and using language as well as articulation. Chronic ear infections can affect a child's ability to hear. If an infant is not babbling or cooing it may be a sign that he isn't capable of hearing the sounds that surround him.

If a child is suffering from an oral impairment, such as issues with the roof of his mouth or his tongue this can result in delayed language and speech. Sometimes children have problems with oral-motor issues, which means there is not enough communication between the areas in the brain that are responsible for speech, which causes the child to face difficulties when it comes to coordinating his lips, tongue and jaw to make sounds. If the child does have an oral-motor problem of this nature he may also have a hard time eating.

Developmental Delay

Delayed speech can be an indicator of general or global developmental delay. Sometimes speech develops normally and then reverts or stall. If this occurs, take your child to the doctor to see if there is a medical cause.


The more human interaction, including speech, an infant is exposed to the better and quicker her oral vocabulary develops, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities.