Archive for September, 2013

September 22nd, 2013

Tongue Tied?

Every once in a while I talk to a parent who asks if their child is tongue tied.  They wonder if that might be the reason he has difficulty talking. There are many reasons why a child might have difficulty with speech sounds, but it’s not due to a tongue tie.

A tongue tie (ankyloglossia) is when the tissue under the tongue (frenulum) is short.  According to the American Speech and Hearing Association it occurs in 4-5% of newborns.  The tongue will look heart shaped and sometimes it’s so short the baby has trouble breast feeding.  Doctors sometimes recommend snipping the tissue (frenulectomy).

Some may want the procedure because the frenulum is so short it makes the tongue look unusual.  If your child is talking and you’re considering this procedure you might want to get the opinion of a speech-language pathologist.   Here are some things to consider and questions to ask;

  • Is the tongue tie preventing the child from licking his lips?
  • Can he lift his tongue to make these sounds-“t, d, l, th”?
  • There are no studies that show a tongue tie causes speech sound problems.
  • There is no evidence that surgery will help the speech delay.

A speech-language pathologist can tell you if your child is having problems with speech sounds or if the errors are just normal development. Many preschoolers have speech sound errors when they’re learning to talk. In Canada, if you’re concerned about your preschool child you can call your local Health Department to see a speech-language pathologist.  If your child is in school you can talk to your school speech-language pathologist.  It’s a free service and you don’t need a doctor’s referral.

Read more  about normal speech sound development in my post called “The Bear Facts”.  It’s in the tag listed to the right called “Getting Started”.  You can also scroll down this page to “Help”.  Type in the title “The Bear Facts”, press enter and you’ll find it.