Speech delay can just be a late talker or it can be a more serious condition. Usually a three year old child can speak short phrases and sentences and communicate clearly. Since he can speak but does not pronounce the words properly, local causes like cleft palate, fixed tongue, thick tongue, and cracked tongue should be looked into. Other causes of speech delay are unrelated to mouth and include autism spectrum disorders, prematurity, auditory processing disorder, and hearing loss. At times there is disruption in the oral-motor pathway that connects to speech area in brain. This is more serious. Your child will need to undergo a battery of tests to find the cause of delay. Speech therapy, physical therapies, positive reinforcement to use and connect words, reading to the child and engaging the child in story reading and conversation are some ways to overcome this delay. Please discuss this with his treating doctor. Take care!
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