Dislalia: Symptoms, Causes, Classification and Treatment According to Experts

The most frequent speech disorder among children.

Definition: It is defined as a pronunciation disorder caused by organic or functional problems with the peripheral organs of speech, and consists of the inability to emit one or more sounds.

Experts estimate that by 5 years, Dislalia affects about 26% of girls and 34% of boys.

At the age of 8, the number of children affected by this problem is reduced to 15% in the case of girls and 16% in the case of boys.


The symptoms can be varied, here are some of them:

  • Replacement of some sounds with others.
  • Distortion of sounds.
  • Omission of some sounds.
  • Change of syllables in a word.
  • Emphasize words wrongly.
  • “Swallow” word endings.
  • Sloppy pronunciation
  • Disorders in the rhythm of speech and disorders of the tempo.
  • Tartamudeo

If you want to know more easily if your child has a problem, pay close attention to the way he pronounces the letters R, C, G, T, S, Z, J, B, D, T, M, N, A, E , OR.

These sounds are the most affected by dyslalia.

If these speech problems do not resolve by the age of 4, consult a speech therapist who will develop a program to correct speech defects that suit the individual characteristics of the child.



The causes of the Dislalia are in most cases of perception and processing of the auditory and visual alterations, as well as disorders of the speech organs (usually in the region of the oral musculature).

Often, however, there are also genetic or related family causes or perhaps the sound is not used in the mother tongue and is unknown to the child.

Classification of Dislalia

Basically, there are two types of Dislalia that can be distinguished: disturbances in the phonetic range and interference in the phonological zone.

Under the phonetic aspect

Dislalia is the interference in the formation of speech sounds: sounds can not be formed correctly due to the difficulty of articulation at motor level.

The most common example of a disorder of this type is Sigmatism (“seseo”), defects of the sounds of the letter S.

The phonological aspect

However, he sees Dislalia as interruptions in the use of speech sounds: sounds are formed correctly, but are not applied in accordance with systematic norms.

They are often omitted or replaced by other sounds in the native language, such as / t / of the / k /.

Classification according to the severity of the dislalia

Another classification can be determined by the severity of the dislalia, that is, if a single sound or more are affected:

Invariant dislalia : When a certain sound is sometimes correct and other times it is said incorrectly.

Incompatible dyslalia : When a sound depends on the position of the sound or the word replaced by different sounds;

Partial dislalia : When one or two sounds are incorrectly formed, but the language is still easy to understand;

Multiple dislalia : When more than two sounds are incorrectly formed, the language is more difficult to understand;

Universal dislalia : When most of the sounds are affected, the language is composed mainly of the vowels (also called “vocal language”), the language is totally unintelligible.


Depending on the type of disorder and cause, it is best to go to a speech specialist or speech therapist to improve the child’s speech.

The specialist will perform exercises to strengthen the muscles used in the production of sounds. The objective of these exercises is to improve the articulation of words, breathing, the rhythm of pronunciations, expressions, etc.

In these therapies, the specialist will apply the necessary exercises through games, so that they are easier to perform, likewise, they are also performed in this way so that the child is happy to learn these new skills.

Sometimes, when the inconvenience has a physical origin, it will be necessary to perform a medical procedure.

Consult your pediatrician or trusted physician to locate the cause and establish the most appropriate treatment.

Tips to correct speech

Although most of these problems can not be solved without the intervention of a specialist that offers a series of special techniques.

There are some practical tips that you can follow in order to prevent speech problems and to correct them, probably in addition to sessions with a speech therapist.

So, here are some tips from speech therapy specialists to effectively correct your children’s speech:

Develop the muscles of the child’s jaw and tongue through: vigorous chewing of food, rinsing the mouth, inflating the cheeks, passing the air from one cheek to the other and vice versa, etc.

Talk with your child exclusively in a correct language. Although temptation is sometimes high, do not use a child’s language.

Read poems and stories with your child on a daily basis.

Talk as often as possible with your little one. Answer all your questions patiently, this encourages the child to ask even more questions.

Speak correctly and clearly as much as possible. Repeat a word or phrase several times to prevent your child from exchanging words.

Help your child to do sound joint correction exercises every day, which aims to correct the functioning of the muscles involved in the pronunciation of sounds.

These include training exercises for the organs involved in the production of sounds, the correct placement of the lips, the tongue, etc.

Do not overexert your child. These sessions should not last more than 15-20 minutes.

Carry out different activities with your child that are designed to develop your fine motor skills.

If your child stutters, good results can be achieved in correcting this defect using music lessons, as they contribute to the development of breathing during speech, tempo and rhythm.

These classes for children should not be boring. Try to turn them into an exciting game, to create a pleasant, calm and encouraging environment, which predisposes your child to achieve good results to overcome the Dislalia.