Preschoolers: Speech imperfections are usually not serious in preschoolers. Most kids with speech imperfections master the correct sounds by the early school years, when they have gained better control over the muscles involved in speech. If you're worried in the meantime, your child's pediatrician and pediatric dentist can rule out physical problems, including dental deformities, that can cause these dysfluencies to occur. Sometimes the solution is as simple as waiting for your child's permanent front teeth to come in.
School-age children: Six percent of children in grades one through 12 have some kind of speech disorder, according to ASLH. Dysfluencies like stuttering and lisping call for professional attention when they continue for prolonged periods or get worse, or if they cause your child anxiety, says Dr. Prazar. If your child's stuttering lasts for longer than eight months, or if he is upset by his difficulty to communicate clearly, consult his pediatrician. Depending on the problem, she may refer you to a speech-language therapist, who will work with you as well as your child.
Bilingual children: Many children nowadays grow up learning two languages. Mixing vocabulary from the two languages, making more grammatical errors, and speaking relatively little are all common behaviors among children in the early stages of mastering a second language. The imperfections usually cease, however, as the child becomes more proficient in both languages. These normal characteristics are sometimes mistaken for language delays, so make sure your child's pediatrician is aware that your child is learning two languages if you report any of these behaviors to him.
Additional reporting by Nancy Arnott
The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.