Chromatin remodeling is of crucial importance during brain development. Pathogenic alterations of several chromatin remodeling ATPases have been implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders. We describe an index case with a de novo missense mutation in CHD3, identified during whole genome sequencing of a cohort of children with rare speech disorders. To gain a comprehensive view of features associated with disruption of this gene, we use a genotype-driven approach, collecting and characterizing 35 individuals with de novo CHD3 mutations and overlapping phenotypes. Most mutations cluster within the ATPase/helicase domain of the encoded protein. Modeling their impact on the three-dimensional structure demonstrates disturbance of critical binding and interaction motifs. Experimental assays with six of the identified mutations show that a subset directly affects ATPase activity, and all but one yield alterations in chromatin remodeling. We implicate de novo CHD3 mutations in a syndrome characterized by intellectual disability, macrocephaly, and impaired speech and language.