Does My Child Have Speech Delay?

Raising a child is hard. Making sure they meet all their milestones can be daunting. How do you know if they are where they are supposed to be developmentally? How do you know if your child has a speech delay?

speech therapy

When is it no longer just your child being on their own schedule and when should you be concerned? Does your child have speech delay?

First of all, you should always talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have. You can fill out the form below and I will send you a little cheat sheet you can use at the doctor’s office.

I am a big proponent of comparing your kids and making sure they are where they should be developmentally. You can read my post on that topic here.

As a mother of three kids including two boys diagnosed with speech and language delay, I have some experience with this. Both boys have gone through speech therapy and C, my oldest is in speech therapy twice a week. You can read our story here.

I have been through this. I know how frightening it can be. But I also know that once you get a diagnosis so many doors open up. Your child can get the help that he or she needs. They will learn and start communicating. It may take some time but IT WILL HAPPEN.

So how do you know if your child has speech delay?

Does my child have speech delay?

To answer that question first, you need to know what is speech or language delay. The answer is it’s a type of communication disorder

It means that if your child has speech or language delay they are not able to use words or other ways of communicating by the expected developmental age.

What is the difference between speech delay and language delay?

Speech delay may include problems making sounds to make words. Language delay has to do with understanding the words that are heard or read as well as putting words together to form sentences or phrases that have meaning.

An example from my life is my two boys. Both of my boys were diagnosed with speech and language delay. C reached his milestones but always a little late in age. By age 2 years he had some vocabulary, in both English and Russian languages as well as a good number of signs. Signs were his most common way of communicating. He was having trouble with some ending sounds, sounds in general and putting words together to create sentences or phrases.

C was diagnosed with speech delay and received early intervention at home speech therapy once a week for about one hour until he was three years old. At age three he still qualified for speech therapy and received it through the school district. C was able to create appropriate sounds soon after therapy started and finally spoke in full sentences at age five. It was a very exciting time for us. Today C still receives therapy through school and our health insurance. 

When T was born (my second) I watched him like a hawk. Or like a mom that already had a child with speech delay. And it came true. T was having trouble making sounds and putting words together to create sentences and phrases. Before T was even 18 months I took him to get evaluated for speech. He was not qualified medically to receive speech. Even though he wasn’t where other kids his age were, he was not that delayed in speech. He did qualify with our Alta regional center.

T received speech through the beginning of Transitional Kindergarten. He has since stopped speech therapy because he tested at an age-appropriate level. He has some difficulties with sounds but overall he is just a typical five-year-old.

speech therapy

What symptoms or red flags of language or speech delay should you look for?

Kaiser Permanente has this to say about speech delay:

Red flags for a speech or language delay include:

No babbling by 9 months.

No first words by 15 months.

No consistent words by 18 months.

No word combinations by 24 months.

Slowed or stagnant speech development.

Problems understanding your child’s speech at 24 months of age; strangers having problems understanding your child’s speech by 36 months of age.

Not showing an interest in communicating.

Also, talk to your health professional anytime you or another caregiver has concerns about your child’s speech and language development or other problem that affects your child’s speech or understanding of language, such as:

Excessive drooling.

Problems sucking, chewing, or swallowing.

Problems with control and coordination of lips, tongue, and jaw.

Stuttering that causes a child embarrassment, frustration, or difficulty with peers.

Poor memory skills by the time your child reaches kindergarten age (5 to 6 years). He or she may have difficulty learning colors, numbers, shapes, or the alphabet.

Some other red flags you can look for in your child include your child not responding to you when you speak to them.

Not responding to loud noises. (This could mean they can’t hear well.)

A sudden loss of speech at any age should be taken seriously. You should talk to your child’s doctor immediately.

speech delay

What should you do if you have concerns about your child’s speech?

My answer is always, talk to your child’s doctor. Tell the doctor your concerns. Have a list of your child’s words (if they have any) written down. Take into consideration if your child speaks more that one language or if they sign as well. Those are ways your child communicates and they are important in determining if they need speech therapy or not. Also, think about your child’s receptive language. Do they understand the world around them? Do they follow directions? Do react to you talking to them? Any concerns you have, WRITE THEM DOWN.

It could be nothing and you just need to wait for your child to catch up. Or your child could receive speech therapy and get the help they need.

I’ve written about speech therapy before. Especially what you can do if you would like to work on your child’s speech at home. Check out this post and this one as well.

Just remember, you know your child best. You know if something is off. You are your child’s advocate.

You got this, mama.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

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