Speech Delay - Tongue Tied?

Updated on December 23, 2009
M.S. asks from Malvern, PA
18 answers

My son turned 2 in September and he is still not talking. He has a few words. We had his hearing and eyesight checked; they both are fine. My older son, now 6, was an early talker but his doctor watched him because they thought he might be tongue-tied. I'm going to have my 2 year old looked at by an ENT. Does anyone have a child that is or was tongue-tied? How did you know? How was the procedure to correct? Did it run in your family?

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So What Happened?

I wish I could send each of you a personal email. I can't thank you enough for all your advice. My son has been seeing early intervention since the spring so i think we are covering all of our bases with his speech. I am not convinced he is tongue-tied but made an appt in Jan to have him checked for peace of mind. Thanks everyone!

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answers from Philadelphia on

I dont know anything about tongue tied but my daughter is 3 and she talks like a baby. I was referred to CHOP speech therapy by her physician so maybe you can see a speech therapist...just a thought



answers from Philadelphia on

my son did not talk a lot until after he was around nineteen months old. he now speaks in full sentences for the most part. once he started going to the babysitter and was around kids his own age then he started talking a lot more. I would not be worried if he does not seem delayed in other areas. Are there any educational shows that he likes? Have him watch sesame street, super why or world world. They go over different words and numbers. Good luck. Make playdates for him to be with children with age. Sometimes,once they start talking the do not shut up,lol.
Happy Holidays.

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answers from Allentown on

Typically a child who it "tongue-tied" can still talk but may not be able to make certain sounds where the tongue has to elevate, like an "L". Does he say words like "mama", "bye-bye", "cookie"? Those words don't involve the tongue tip but the back of the tongue or just the lips. If you are concerned have him evaluated by your local county Early Intervention program. It is a free service and they come to your house. Worth the peace of mind!



answers from Pittsburgh on

It certainly can't hurt to have your son checked by an ENT so that you can rule a physical problem out, or get it corrected. But a call to Early Intervention should also be on your list to do ASAP. Regardless of the reason that he isn't talking, EI can provide a speech therapist for free to help him catch up until he is 3.

It looks like you are in Chester County, if so, the webpage is here to contact them <http://dsf.chesco.org/mhmr/cwp/view.asp?a=1629&amp;q=6316.... If I'm wrong about your location, just do a search for your county and early intervention.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi M.,
My son (now 6) is "tongue tied." My mom is too. It's a condition where the little membrane under the tongue is connected (to whatever degree) to the bottom of the mouth. My son can't stick out his tongue very far, but it has not had any effect on his speech. I guess there are degrees of severity. I think the procedure is to have that little membrane snipped. For us, it's not a big issue so I have not looked into it all that much.
If you are truly concerned about his speech development, why not get an evaluation by Early Intervention? It certainly couldn't hurt! It could very well help. And it's free while they are under 3.

***Upon re-reading your post, it seems you are specifically asking MOMS OF TONGUE TIED kids how we were made aware of it and what we did about it. As one of those moms, it was briefly mentioned when he was very young and I guess because it is not severe, it has never been mentioned again by any pediatrician or dentist or hygienist.
Despite reassurance from many moms that no talking in age two boys is "normal" (whatever that is!), only YOU know your child well enough to decide whether to let it go, or look into it further (as far as his speech is concerned).

Many times a well-meaning mom confidently gives her reassurance, but every child IS different and I personally know of at least (2) two year old boys currently receiving much needed speech therapy. They were not talking with many words by age 2. That is what prompted the speech eval in both cases. And they are both making great strides in their speech! Always trust YOUR instinct where YOUR child is concerned. Best of luck to you and your little guy!


answers from Williamsport on

I just looked up these symptoms to tongue tie wondering what they were. I''m sure you already know them. If you are concerned about this particular condition, it can be assessed.


HOWEVER, if you are simply suspecting it because he's 2 and not talking-DON"T WORRY! There is an entire industry of speech therapists out there created on the opinion that boys should ALL be talking by 2! And MANY MANY MANY MANY don't. My 2 year old son isn't talking, and I never gave it a moment's thought, because I have a huge family (not blood line) full of various boys who didn't talk by two. My two closest friend's sons didn't talk by 2. I was shocked to find out other people worry about this including my other friend who has been taking her 2 year old son to all kinds of tests before a doctor FINALLY told her he's perfectly normal and many boys don't talk by 2.

Luckily, if he is tongue tied, it's not very serious usually, but if he's not-I'm sure he's totally fine and just not talking yet.


answers from Allentown on

Hi, M.:

You have done everything that a mother can do to check out if there is any organic problem with your son's speech delaty.

Some children's speech center's develop slower than others. All children aren't talkers. Not all adults are talkers. See how many adults you know that sit and listen.

That is a quality to have. Thank God your child is a listener.

My brother didn't talk until he was 3 my mother said. Today, he is not a talker. He listens and asks questions.
Don't worry, he is where he needs to be. Good luck. D.



answers from Sharon on

In England, where I'm from, a tongue tied child is one whose flap of skin under their tongue comes up high enough that it impedes feeding, speech. For some this corrects itself as their body grows for others they do a little snip to cut that piece of skin to help their tongue move.

My two year old hardly spoke and there was no tongue tie and here is what I did.

Removed binkys, bottles and partially sippy cups etc. I tried to switch him between a sippy cup to a regular cup as this helps exercise different muscles in the mouth and tongue to help with speech.

I started making sure I read to him every day. I also spoke to him as much as possible in normal sentences, not just baby talk. I repeated several times words that he needed to use like drink. Up until then I could anticipate his needs or he would grunt and I knew exactly what he wanted.

Sign language can also help to encourage your little one to talk as he can match speech with something visual. Infact, studies have linked it to early talking.



answers from Philadelphia on

It's great that you're keeping a close eye on your son's development and having his hearing checked was a really good start to figuring this out. The earlier posters are right--if he had a tongue tie that was severe enough to really impact his speech (rather than just a few later-developing sounds) you would see it in feeding difficulties and probably in other contexts, too. There is a wide range for normal development, but by 2 he should have more than 50 words and should be putting them together in 2-word sentences. Does he understand what is said to him? Does he express himself in other ways, like gestures? I'm a speech-language pathologist and I've seen lots of kids like your son and they're generally fine but it's a good idea to check it out now. If he needs some speech therapy, it will be most effective if it's started ASAP, and he needs to be seen to be sure there isn't a larger developmental issue (though your doctor is probably watching that too). I would recommend that you talk to your doctor about having him evaluated--at a private clinic or a hospital, or through the local early intervention program (which is free and will come to your house). Even if he doesn't need therapy, the clinician can give you some suggestions to help him to develop his speech at home. Good luck!


answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi M., Can you son follow directions and does he understand you? If he can follow multi-step directions and there is no apparent reason that he is not talking (hearing etc) then try to relax and wait and see. My youngest didn't really start to talk until she was three...she communicated with body language and a few words. I had her hearing tested, eyesight, and to see if she needed speech therapy (tested twice always boarder-line for her age). There was no physical reason why she wasn't talking...then right after her third birthday she started talking in complete sentences! It was like she was waiting until she could say exactly what she wanted to with no stumbling. In fact she went from silent to "marathon mouth" yup, non-stop for hours! Yes, she does have two older sisters that did and still do talk alot...so maybe that's why she waited too. We'll never know. Best wishes and Happy Holidays.



answers from Allentown on

Hi M., My daughter was in the same boat.

We had great success having her evaluated by a govt sponsored program called Early Intervention. (This is a pre-curser to what the public schools use, so best to get on board early!)

We have financial means, but you can't pay for it. They evaluated her as having aproxia... a natural disconnect with those things that babies normally start doing automatically. Hers related mostly to speech, but we also found later that she could not jump or run properly, until "taught" how to do it correctly. She WAS tongue-tied, and we did choose to have her tongue clipped, which they recommended in her case. Many of the sounds she eventually learned would not have required it, but her therapist said that she would also never have been able to move her tongue to reach other "speech spots".

Needless to say, her success with the evaluation and subsequent 5 years of speech therapy was almost miraculous! She and I went to speech therapy once/week and then practiced about 15 minutes every day. She learned each vowel and each consonant and then each blended sound, one by one. It was amazing how quickly she began to talk when taught how to mouth the sounds.

Teachers now are saying the two and three year olds who get help notice almost no transition issues. If you wait until he's older, he will quickly know that he is "different" which can cause emotional harm, especially if some kids think its funny that he talks "baby talk."

Just know that help is there... and that's its not to late to find out if he needs it or not!

Best wishes! I hope to hear later how you fared!




answers from Reading on

I would be willing to bet that your 6 yo is the little enterperter and talks for your 2 yo. He isn't talking because he doesn't have to. That happened in my family and one day my brother said a whole sentence and everyone just about passed out. It normally isn't that he can't talk, he just doesn't have to...you and your older child are figuring out the points and grunts. He will talk one day all on his own since there doesn't seem to be anything medically wrong.



answers from Philadelphia on

Being tongue-tied is a term used for babies with tight or short frenulums. The frenulum is the piece of skin you can see under the tongue. It is usually noticed at birth because the baby's tongue may be slightly "heart shaped." In any case, frenulums can be snipped shortly after birth - a two minute procedure for newborns called a frenulectomy requiring no pains meds or sedation. This is often done to avoid speech problems later or problems with breast feeding. If it is not done, there is the chance of speech delay - but not always. Some people with tight frenulums have no problems with it. If your doc does say a frenulectomy is required- and your child is already 2 then general anesthesia will be used. That said, my son didn't 'start talking until he was 2 years and a couple months. He too had his ears checked and was evaluated by speech therapists...and the short of it was that he was perfectly fine - in fact he doesn't stop talking now. ANd when he was evaluated they said he's really advanced in receptive speech so sometimes when one thing excels another skill lags a bit and it's no big deal. The one thing you can look for is to see if the speech is an isolated issue. If your son is fine in every other way...he's probably going to be talking in a month or two. Einstein didn't talk until he was 3 - that's what everyone told me :)



answers from Harrisburg on

Have you had your child checked by Early Intervention for speech delay? It's usually free for the evaluation and for the speech therapy. ENT won't tell you much unless there's a physical problem. Usually EI is the best route to go first.

My 22 year old son got checked at a young age, found he was 6 months behind but told me what to do at home myself and come back in 6 months. I did what they asked, came back and he was on target.

My 14 year old had a speech delay and got checked after his 3rd birthday. He was behind, found he had a Lateral Lisp, not like Cindy Brady where the tongue pushes against the front teeth, but the tongue flattens out the sides and sounds slushy more like Sylvester the Cat. He started the 4 year old preschool class at age 3 to model after the older kids and got his therapy there. He continued speech therapy through most of elementary school.

Out of the triplets, one son has a speech delay. At age 2, after his 2nd birthday, he started in home therapy, mostly through play at that age. We moved when he was about 2.5 and came to PA. In this area, not sure if it's for the entire state or not, but they do in home speech therapy for free until age 3. By their 3rd brithday they have to go out of the home and taken to the speech therapist. From age 3 to pre-kindergarten, they can get different levels of therapy, depending on their need, all free. My son got one on one therapy for 2 years and this year at age 5 (in pre-k) he goes Friday mornings to a speech pre-school, transportation provided a half hour away. There's no more than 6 children in the class and it's run like a regular pre-school but focused on using good speech. It's been great! Next year they'll transition his therapy to the school where he'll be attending kindergarten. He'll continue to get therapy through school until it's not needed anymore, like his older brother.

Contact your area Early Intervention to have him evaluated. They'll be able to tell you if it's a physical problem or an actual speech delay that needs therapy. That should be your first step.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets

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answers from Philadelphia on

I have two boys and they are both tongue-tied, as is their father (and all of his siblings). I knew they were tongue-tied at birth...it was quite evident. We chose not to have it corrected (although thei cousin had hers clipped at her pediatrician shortly after birth). My older son (3.5) has not had his speech affected and our younger son (14 months) does not seem to be affected either (he has about 15 words).



answers from Erie on


My two sons both have speech issues. My 7 year old is in first grade, and is doing well. There are some words and sounds that are unclear, but 95% of the time his speech is clear. My younger son is a different story. On both sides of the family there are speech issues, so it is no surprise that my boys are going through this. Tanner the younger one, is only saying 10-20 words, and he is 3 and a half. I put him in Early Intervention and he is now going to a preschool with speech emphasis. The speech therapist thinks he may have Apraxia. I noticed that another mom mentioned that. I discussed my concerns with our family doctor, and he wants Tanner to be evaluated by a pediatric neurologist. I am scared what the outcome will be, but this way we will know what is wrong with him. He will get the right therapy to develop his speech. In the last three years, I was told he could be Autistic, just have a speech delay, and now may have Apraxia. It has been scary, and very upsetting to be told all these things about your child. I also was told by people not to worry, b/c he will talk when he wants. My son, I don't think is tongue tied, but who knows, he could be. Please follow your instincts and have him checked by your family dr. After your son is checked, the dr. should be able to tell you where to go from there, if he or she feels there is a problem. I know some of the moms have meant well when they have told you not to worry, and let him talk in his own time, but what if there is a reason why he is not talking. Having him seen by his dr. will help you find the answers you are looking for and give you peace of mind.

Good Luck,




answers from Philadelphia on

I wouldn't worry about your son's not talking yet. All children are different.
My grandchildren (triplets) just turned three in Nov.. They just started talking just before turning three and are doing real well now. Still can't understand all they say but they are doing just fine.
Good luck and a Merry Christmas to you and your family.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I think you'd know if your child was tongue tied. My daughter had trouble latching on and we figured out that she had a slight tongue tie in the first few days of her life. The doc encouraged me to breast feed as much as I could, and as she got older, we all encouraged her to "stick out her tongue" to stretch it. We watched her language development right up until she was 2, but by then, she could touch her tongue to her chin, so she did "outgrow" it. I think the 3rd response you got - with the older one acting as "spokesperson", makes the most sense:)

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