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How to Tell if Your Child Has Speech Development Issues



You may have noticed that your child doesn’t talk as much as his peers, but how do you know whether or not they have a speech development disorder? The truth is that every child is a little different, so while your child may not speak as much as their brother or sister did at the same age it does not necessarily mean that they have a speech development disorder. But there are some key developmental norms that can give you a clue as to whether or not you need to seek the help of a professional for your child’s speech development.

What to Expect for Speech Development in Your Child

How well, and how much, your child should be talking will depend largely on their age. Of course, no one expects a one-year-old to speak at the same level as a five-year-old but speech development is a little more complex than how many words your little one is able to say.

  • Zero-12 Months: At this age, your little one should just begin trying out “baby talk.” Most of the words they try to use will make little sense because they are mostly trying out sounds with their mouth and tongues. At around nine months they may begin saying words such as “mama” or “dada” and other simple sounds that they can put together.
  • Two Years (24 months): By the age of two most toddlers are able to string simple sentences together using smaller words. Some toddlers may also begin trying to pronounce longer words, and while they may not get it right they can be surprisingly easy to understand. Leading up to two years of age toddlers will begin by learning words one at a time until they have learned from 20 to 50 new words then they will begin stringing simple sentences together.
  • Three Years: At this point, your toddler will show an increased comprehension when you speak to them and they should be using simple sentences to express themselves regularly. Remember that some toddlers will be more chatty than others, but most toddlers will still be able to string three-word sentences together at a time even if they don’t do it often.

Speech Development Problems to Watch Out For

Some parents will read the basic guide above and think that their child is not on the right track and there is something wrong. This is not always the case. Some children do develop earlier or later than others. However, there are a few signs that you should watch out for and keep in mind if you have questions about your child’s speech development.

  • If your infant does not vocalize at all by age 12 months and only uses gestures or if your infant does not seem to hear you when you speak or does not react to loud sounds
  • If your child does not try to imitate sounds by age 18 months
  • If your toddler does not seem to understand simple requests from you or another parental figure by age 24 months

Additionally, you may want to make an appointment with a speech pathologist if your child is over the age of two and does not:

  • Speak on their own, only imitates your sounds and speech
  • Only uses a handful of words or sounds and does not seem able to communicate his or her needs in any other way
  • Tries to speak but can’t be understood by you or their caregivers at all

Most parents will at one point or another become worried over their child’s development, speech, or otherwise. And while most children are absolutely fine and will eventually pick up the developments of their other peers any parents who have questions on their child’s speech development are encouraged to speak with a speech pathologist if they have any questions.