Dyslalia: Types, Causes, and Treatment

dyslalia types and treatment

It refers to a speech disorder caused by a defect or malformation of the nerves that go to the organs of articulation.

Dyslalia is the inability or difficulty to articulate comprehensible speech because of abnormalities in phono-articulatory organs such as lips, mandible, the veil of the palate, tongue, etc.

More often than not this condition affects children between the ages of 4-8. But in a few cases, some teenagers and even adults can suffer from Dyslalia as well.

Many people consider this condition as one of the most common speech disorders affecting kids in their pre-school and primary years.

Typically, a kid with this condition will have significant trouble with the articulation of different phonemes or groups of phonemes.

The term “Phonemes” refer to the abstract units of sounds in a language that helps to differentiate each word from the others. They play an essential role in speech and communication.

When kids suffer from this condition, they tend to display an inappropriate pronunciation of words and sounds.

In the worst cases, children with Dyslalia speak in a way that results incomprehensible to people.

However, sometimes when children don’t articulate well at the time of pronouncing some specific words people might be dealing with articulatory immaturity, which means some of the kids’ speech organs are still under development.

In such cases, when given enough time, the child’s pronunciation and articulation issues will eventually become normalized.

Types of Dyslalia

If we classify this disorder according to its etiology (the specific set of causes), we could divide Dyslalia into the following kinds:

Physiological Dyslalia

The condition caused by the age-related malaise of the kid’s speech development. However, the organ structures eventually mature and correct the issue in time.

This type of Dyslalia could occur due to the immaturity of the organic structures involved in the speech, the absence of auditory discrimination, respiratory alterations or limited movements in the articulatory organs.

Most children are capable of overcoming this condition before reaching the aged of 5 years old.

Auditory Dyslalia

The articulatory disorder caused by impaired hearing which prevents the patients from adequately grasping and imitating sounds.

Given a correct hearing plays a significant role in the speech development, people with this issue display alterations in the way they speak such as voice and rhythm.

Organic Dyslalia

This condition occurs due to anatomical disorders in the structure of the articulatory apparatus.

Other potential causes of this type of Dyslalia are an injury to the central nervous system or an organic alteration of the peripheral speech organs.

Functional Dyslalia

It refers to a defect in the development of articulation due to an anomaly in the function of peripheral organs. When kids suffer from this condition, they may have trouble with any phoneme.

In this type of Dyslalia people can find Phonetic Disorders and Phonological Disorders.

Phonetic Disorders would be alterations in the production of phonemes, usually focused on the motor aspect of the joint.

Phonological Disorders refer to alterations at a perceptual and organizational level, typically affecting the mechanisms of conceptualization of sounds and the perception of the relationship between written characters and their meaning.

The usual feature of Functional Dyslalia is a frequent substitution, omission, or deformation of letters such as the R, K, L, S, or Z.

In most of these cases, the malfunction of the phono-articulatory organs doesn’t occur due to physical trauma (damage/injury) or malformation.


Several factors can lead to the development of this speech disorder, and some people tend to divide them into two categories:

Organic causes:

  • Defects in the structure of the peripheral articulation apparatus, which includes tongue, lips, teeth, and jaws.
  • A thickness of the lips limiting their movement
  • Shortened sublingual ligament
  • Narrowed jaw

However, when Dyslalia does not occur due to abnormalities in the phono-articulatory organs, the cause is likely related to developmental issues.

Developmental Causes

  • Poor motor skills possibly due to psychomotor impairment
  • Difficulties in the perception of space-time
  • Lack of hearing comprehension
  • Intellectual disability
  • Psychological disorders

However, researchers are still making studies on what other factors could be involved in the development of Dyslalia.


Medical experts will likely establish a program of articulation based on a behavioral model.

They will analyze the behavior of the patient to divide the issue into the several categories they’ll treat one by one.

Then, medical experts will design games to stimulate the capacity of the children to produce sounds by making them duplicate movements and postures, as well as experimenting with vowels and consonants.

Another way to help is to encourage the patients to coordinate their lip movements by exercising with their lips and tongue.

Most of the therapy aims to help the kids to work out the muscles involved in the speech process.

Several other treatments are available, but whether or not medical experts resort to them will depend on the needs of the patient and the severity of the case.