The cause of some speech sound problems is known; for example, speech difficulties can be the result of motor speech disorders (e.g., dysarthria), structural differences (e.g., cleft palate), or sensory deficiencies (e.g., hearing impairment). However, the cause of articulation and phonological speech sound disorders in most children is unknown.
Even so, a number of studies have identified risk and protective factors associated with speech sound disorders in children.
Risk factors include
- male sex;
- pre- and perinatal problems;
- oral sucking habits (e.g., excessive sucking of pacifiers or thumb)
- ear, nose, and throat problems;
- a more reactive temperament;
- family history of speech and language problems;
- low parental education;
- lack of support for learning in the home.
Protective factors may include
- a more persistent and sociable temperament,
- a higher level of maternal well-being.
(Campbell et al., 2003; Fox, Dodd, & Howard, 2002; Harrison & McLeod, 2010)