Early Signs of A Speech-Language Disorder
Signs of speech language disorder

Are you worried because your child hasn’t started talking yet? Or that your child can not always pronounce certain sounds in words? Whatever your concern, early intervention for speech and language concerns can improve your child’s future communication skills and give him or her more confidence when speaking.

Some speech-language disorders that can affect children may include:

  • Language disorders - difficulty understanding or processing language (receptive), or difficulty using language (expressive).

  • Speech sound disorders - difficulty pronouncing certain sounds or unintelligible speech

  • Fluency disorders - interruption of the flow of speech (e.g., hesitations, repetitions, or prolonging sounds or words).

  • Voice disorders - problems with the pitch, volume or quality of the voice.

The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) has compiled a list of early warning signs of communication disorders.  

Potential Signs Of A Language Disorder

  • Doesn't smile or interact with others (3 months)

  • Doesn't babble (9 months)

  • Doesn’t use gestures (e.g., waving, pointing) (7–12 months)

  • Has not used first word (15 months)

  • Doesn’t follow simple directions (20 months)

  • Doesn't put words together to make sentences (1½–2 years)

  • Has trouble interacting with other children (2–3 years)

  • Has a vocabulary of less than 50 words (2 years)

Potential Signs Of A Speech Sound Disorder

  • Less than 50% intelligible to unfamiliar listeners by the age of 2

  • Unfamiliar listeners can understand less than 75% of what 3-year-old says

  • Inconsistent productions of the same target sounds or words

Potential Signs Of A Fluency Disorder

  • Repeats first sounds of words—such as "b-b-b-ball" for "ball"

  • Stretches sounds out—such as "f-f-f-f-farm" for "farm"

  • Significantly rapid speech rate

Potential Signs Of A Voice Disorder

  • Uses a hoarse or breathy voice

  • Inability to speak loudly

  • Chronic cough or excessive throat clearing

Early intervention can be an integral part of the process, so it’s important your child begins treatment as soon as possible.  ASHA says: “The earlier a child's speech and language problems are identified and treated, the less likely it is that problems will persist or get worse. Early speech and language intervention can help children be more successful with reading, writing, schoolwork, and interpersonal relationships.”

It can be important not to wait for your child to outgrow their speech and language concerns.  Instead, contact your pediatrician or local speech-language pathologist to discuss your child’s communication concerns.  Speech-language disorders can negatively impact your child’s ability to read, write, learn, and even socialize.

As a parent, your involvement is a crucial to helping your child overcome a speech-language disorder.  There are several activities that you can do at home to help your child that include playing word games, telling stories, having your child play with other children, giving your child time to talk, and using a wide variety of words with your child. 

Additionally, feel free to contact In-Home Speech Solutions if you have questions or concerns we can help answer.

Resources: Know the Signs of Speech and Language Disorders. Retrieved from https://identifythesigns.org

Jennifer Price M.S., CCC-SLP Lead Speech-Language Pathologist & Owner.