Speech delays and disorders are common. In fact, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, “Nearly 1 in 12 (7.7 percent) U.S. children ages 3-17 has had a disorder related to voice, speech, language, or swallowing in the past 12 months” and “5 percent of U.S. children ages 3-17 have a speech disorder that lasted for a week or longer during the past 12 months.”
Below we review everything you as a parent need to know about speech delays.
Speech Delay Vs. Language Delay
Speech refers to the verbal expression of language and includes articulation, or the way we form sounds and words. Meanwhile, language refers to the giving and getting of information; it can be verbal, nonverbal and written.
A speech delay means your child uses words and phrases to express ideas but may be difficult to understand, and a language delay means you child might say words but only be able to put a couple of them together.
Signs of a Speech/Language Delay
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether your child has a speech or language delay if they are very young. Below are some signs of a delay to look out for:
- Not using gestures (pointing or waving) by 12 months.
- Preferring gestures over vocalizations by 18 months.
- Having trouble imitating sounds at 18 months.
- Only imitating speech but not producing words spontaneously at two years.
- Repeatedly saying only a few sounds or words at two years.
- Being unable to use oral language to communicate more than their immediate needs at two years.
- Being unable to follow simple directions or requests at two years.
- Having an unusual tone of voice (raspy or nasal) at two years.
Parents/regular caregivers should understand approximately 50% of a child’s speech at two years and 75% by three years. By four years, the child should be mostly understandable, even by people who don’t know them such as other kids and parents at Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse.
What Causes a Speech/Language Delay?
Common causes of a speech delay include:
- Hearing loss
- Intellectual disability
- Psychosocial deprivation
- Being a twin
- Elective mutism
- Cerebral palsy
- Living in a bilingual home
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Pinnacle ENT today.