Closed Mouth While "Speaking"

by Julia
(New York)

My 2 year old son is receiving speech therapy 2 times a week.

He has a tendency to keep his mouth closed while he talks. My husband and I call it "humming".

It sounds like he is repeating what we say because the intonation patterns are imitated correctly, but he keeps his mouth closed and hums the word or words.

When he is involved in physical play he will be vocal but only with a few letters: d mostly, sometimes m and p. No other sounds.

Rarely we will hear an actual word or phrase, such as hi daddy, but we can never get him to say it again.

The biggest problem we have right now is getting him to imitate speech sounds but he refuses to open his mouth.

We've tried mirror play, outer oral stimulation, "silly sound" play, etc but he will not open.

Structurally his mouth, teeth, etc. are normal, and oral strength and coordination are also normal.

Any thoughts/ideas?

His speech therapist seems to be at his wits end! Thank you.

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May 31, 2016
Singing with close mouth
by: Anonymous

My baby is now 21 months. He started mama,baba,dada, ay-ay, manna,up and other wordssince he was 14months old. Now he stopped saying anything except mamma,babba but he is responding with me keep his mouth shut.even now he sing -wheel of the bus, rain rain go away and twinkle twinkle keeping his mouth closed. He can understand all the command. He is always so active and excited

Mar 12, 2015
16 month old
by: Anonymous

I was just looking some info on this as my son is 16 months. He used to say Mama, Dada and Bye Bye.

Now he says Da for Bye but all other words with his mouth closed.

At what age should I seek advice from a Speech Therapist or professional. Is he too young atm?

My other children were both early talkers so this is a new thing for me and has me concerned.

Mar 07, 2014
Growing Out of It
by: Kerry

My son did this too, he's 28 months. Until a month ago he said most things with his mouth shut or teeth clenched.

He was making slow but steady progress with his 'out loud' words, he could say about 100 words properly with an open mouth, adding a new one to the list every week or so.

Everything else was said with a closed mouth.

You could hear the intonation and syllables but he didn't speak out loud a lot of the time. In the last month however, this has completely changed. I can't keep up with the number of words he now says out loud! Lots of full sentences too.

He still says some things with a closed mouth but I have no doubt he will get the hang of those soon. He hasn't had any other developmental delays and the understanding has been there for a long time, i.e. he knew what was being said, could follow verbal instructions, was using sentences, albeit with a closed mouth, has known his colours and shapes from about 18 months (saying them with a shut mouth).

We started giving him an omega 3 supplement about 2 months ago, not sure if this has had an affect? We also started playing the phonics song on YouTube (there's a link below).

He is obsessed with this video and the other versions of it, and kept asking for it everyday, so we played it everyday! I definitely feel this helped; it reminded us to sound things out phonetically for him in day-to-day life.

We started by practicing single sounds with him, a, e, i, o, u, etc. When he mastered a few of those, we started sounding out some short simple words like hat, eat, up, book and so on. Practicing animal sounds was very useful too, as it's fun.

He could sense when we were trying to 'teach' him and would slowly back away, so try and make it into a game or song if you can. I just thought I'd post this as a lot of parents seem to experience this but very few come back to say how things turned out.

I mentioned this to several GPs and health visitors and none of them had ever heard of such a thing, which wasn't exactly very reassuring for me! I can't speak for children who present other symptoms or developmental delays, but if all the other milestones are there and the understanding is there, I'd say it's just their way of acquiring language.

I did read somewhere on my internet trawling that late talkers are usually very good at Maths, and Science and often have a parent who is also good at maths and tend to work in Science, Engineering, etc.

I myself am very good at Maths and have a Science degree, and guess what? According to my mum I barely opened my mouth until sometime after turning 2 when I suddenly started talking like nobody's business. My Granny says my uncle did the same, (he's a mechanic).

So maybe people who are good maths, science, engineering, etc (things the right side of the brain deal with), acquire their language in a different way (dealt with by the left side of the brain)

Just a theory, but I think it makes sense.

Feb 05, 2014
Relax :)
by: edenworth

Julia, just relax.

My son did the same thing until recently (and he's just about to turn 3). He talked with his mouth closed and hardly said any words at all, properly.

However, it all changed about two months ago, all by itself. All of a sudden he started talking and I can tell you - he's got quite a vocabulary.

Every now and then he sometimes repeats what he says with his mouth closed, but everything else is quite normal. And many people told me boys tend to start speaking later than girls, so I think you don't need to worry.

He'll start in his own time :)

Oct 10, 2013
Same here
by: Anonymous

Any new information from anyone? My child is doing the exact same thing and is almost 2 years old. The speech factor is the only delay and he repeats what we say but with his mouth closed.

May 15, 2013
Our family finally has answers
by: Janelle

I posted awhile back and the last place we were at was that my son had autism.

But the team that evaluated him wanted a chromosome testing done on him because he was a puzzler to them as he had some autism traits but didn't totally.

Well to our surprise he has an extra chromosome and with that it turns out he has Klinefelters syndrome. With Klinefleters they too have a speech delay. So relief has sort of come to my family.

Now we know what our son has.

The weird thing is I almost didn't do the chromosome testing as I thought it wouldn't lead anywhere.

I'm happy I did though.

Mar 31, 2013
Speaking with a closed mouth
by: Lynne

As a speech therapist, I always suggest to parents with children who aren't progressing/who are still non-verbal as they get closer to age 3 to seek further testing.

I may or may not see signs of autism (remember, it's a spectrum. Very mild to highly severe), verbal apraxia, or even a hearing impairment, but it is always wise to get another look.

Just for the sake of giving parents peace of mind, and of course to get their child started as early as possible on a therapy that will help them progress in case there is another diagnosis.

It is very difficult to tell from here what is going on with a child that "speaks" with his/her mouth closed, so I would suggest that each parent have a talk with their speech therapist and request further testing to see if something else is going on.

It certainly can't hurt.

As I stated earlier, give yourselves some peace of mind. If further testing finds nothing, then great: you can continue with basic speech therapy and watch your child progress, knowing that he/she will not go through life not talking.

But if another diagnosis is given, then you know you did what you could for your child and sought the services they need to progress at a young age.

I am a firm believer in Early Intervention; the longer you wait, the harder it is to acquire age-appropriate skills.

Mar 31, 2013
Do you have any news?
by: Sujuan

It seems that all of your doctor suggested austism evaluation. Except for the speech, does your child show any sign of autism? I am not sure my son needs autism evaluation or not.

I could not get professional autism evaluation here.

I heard that lack of eye contact is a sign of autisim, but my son has good eye contact with family members and relatives he is familiar to.

His sport ability is also good. He started walking when he was 11 months and jumped with two feet off the ground about 1.5 years. When he plays in the playground, he does the same as other boys at his age.

He can understand what I say very well, and follow my direction. For example, when he was looking for his toy, I told him it is in my bag, and my bag is on the bed. Then he went to the bed and found my bag, opened my bag and got his toy.

He is sensitive to others' comment. Today, when my friend called me, I told her my son spoke with mouth closed. Tonight, he tries to open his mouth when he speak, but without move his tongue.

I am really not sure he needs a autism evaluation or not and I need to plan a long distance travel for the evaluation.

Would anyone like to share with me the reason for your doctor to suggest a autism evaluation?

Mar 24, 2013
My Son Also Speaks with His Mouth Closed
by: Sujuan

My son is 34 months.

He also speaks with his mouth closed. This started several months ago. About half a year ago, he spoke three words normally and stopped speaking for a long time and started speaking recently with a lot of new words but with mouth closed.

His words have increased rapidly in the past weeks. I feel he can speak anything he knows and what I teach him, but with mouth closed.

I can not find speech pathologist in my city. May you keep me updated with your progress and any try possible to help?

Thank you very much!

Feb 28, 2013
by: Anonymous

What you are both describing sounds worthy of being evaluated by a specialist, or preferably a team of specialists.

I am an SLP working with preschoolers. In order to make progress in speech, children have to be able to do a few basic things.

First, they have to be able to hear, and hear consistently. Not every child with intermittent ear fluid has an ear infection or presents with pain.

Lots and lots of toddlers and preschoolers spend large portions of the year (usually October through March) hearing as if they're "under water." Without accurate and consistent verbal input, speech therapy will be of marginal value.

Secondly, a child has to be able to attend to both what I say, AND what their own speech sounds like.

A child who struggles with joint attention or needs to be constantly moving or who is generally non compliant with SLP-led tasks will not make great gains in therapy. And, I just described most typical 2 year olds!

Thirdly, a child must understand the need to copy me, to "do what I do." It shouldn't be terribly surprising that not every child gets this concept at age 2. Some don't get it at age 3.

A case could be made that children who don't yet possess these skills are not "ready" for speech therapy. However, I firmly believe in early intervention, so I look at it a differrent way.

It's true, the child isn't ready, but it's my job to help them get ready. I essentially have to teach the task before I can even work on teaching the sounds.

Yes, this takes a very long time.

Speech therapy isn't "magic."

We can't "make" children talk.

We can only encourage it, stimulate it, reward it, etc.

But a child who refuses to open his mouth (for whatever reason) will not be able to make significant gains in therapy.

Jan 16, 2013
Some Hope
by: Katrina

Alas we have made some progress.

He is now verbalizing 5 words and trying to still do more. We are currently waiting to get into the autistic clinic at Riley Children's Hospital for more evaluations.

We have met with a speech therapist and psychologist who have made the mention of Aspergers. We will not know for sure until the complete evaluation.

Just do not give up hope.

Any sound is a good sound, so show pride in whatever verbalization that comes. :)

Jan 15, 2013
same thing with us
by: Janelle

Our son is almost 29 months and is exactly the same as you described yours to be. Everybody is at a loss.

He does speech twice a week. We always hear from the therapist and specialist that they have never seen anything like it.

The early intervention group we are with suggested he be evaluated by a special team of therapists who are highly experienced and they said they never experienced a child like him before.

They told us their guess is that he may be autistic. But they didn't diagnose him and want to see him again in a year.

The only marker he has for autism is the speech factor. He used to say hi but it disappeared.

Every once in awhile he will say a random word with his mouth open like "fish" but he won't say it again. The special team that saw him also suggested to us to do a chromosome analysis on him.

We may do that just to check all factors.

Thank you for posting. I couldn't believe it when I read it, you could have been describing my own son.

Nov 09, 2012
Closed mouth while "speaking"
by: Julia

Thank you. It's been very frustrating. He's been in therapy for about a year now and there hasn't been much progress.

He's become a little more vocal but not verbal. We put him into a small daycare about a month ago at the request of his therapist to see if that will help trigger language but so far nothing.

Please do keep me posted if you or your child's therapists have a breakthrough. Good luck to you.

Nov 09, 2012
We have the same problem.
by: Katrina

My son is 26 months and we also have the same problem with speaking closed mouth.

He has therapy twice a week for the last 8 months and still not much progress with verbal language. He does well with sign language though. We have tried everything but nothing seems to be helping.

His therapists are also at a loss. I would be interested if you come across anything else about this type of situation and I will comment back if I find anything.

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