5 Signs of Language Delay in Children

young child with a language delay practicing sounds with a speech therapist

Author: Circle of Care

As children grow, it’s important to track their language development milestones. Knowing the signs of language delay in children can help identify potential issues early on, and ensure your child is receiving the necessary treatment they need for future success.

What is Language Delay?

Language delay is when a child’s language development does not progress at the same rate as their peers. It is usually identified by the age of 3, though can be observed in some children as young as 18 months of age. Causes of language delay include hearing loss and developmental disabilities like autism.

Speech Delay vs Language Delay

Speech delay and language delay are two different conditions. Speech delay in children is when a child has difficulty producing speech sounds correctly or fluently, while language delay is when children have difficulty understanding and using spoken language.

5 Warning Signs of Language Delay in Children

Signs of language delay can appear in a variety of ways and it’s important to remember that every child is different. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to speak with your child’s pediatrician. Common signs of language delay in children include:

Not Babbling By 15 Months

Babbling is a child’s first attempt at producing words and sounds. Babies will babble in an attempt to imitate sounds. Commonly, this is when children will start saying “mama” and “dada”.

Not Talking By Two Years

Most children will be able to say a variety of words by the age of two. Some children may be able to say 50-100 words, while others can say upwards of 300-500. While your child may not be able to put words into sentences, they should be able to easily say single words and two-word phrases.

Use of Gestures Over Words

Before 18 months, children will use gestures as a method of communication like pointing and waving “bye-bye”. Though, If your child is using gestures more than words after 18 months, it could be a sign of language delay. Gestures such as pointing or waving can substitute for speech, but should not take its place.

Unable to Speak in Short Sentences By Three

By the age of three, a child should be able to construct sentences with at least three words. These sentences can be brief descriptions of what they saw, felt, or liked. If your child is having trouble constructing simple sentences by three, it could be a sign of language delay.

Difficulty Understanding Simple Spoken Directions

By the age of three, children should be able to understand basic directions and questions. This includes understanding words like “stop” and “go”, as well as following simple instructions. If your child is having difficulty comprehending spoken directions or isn’t following them, this could be a warning sign of language delay.

Language Delay Treatment

The most effective treatment for language delay is early intervention. Depending on the severity of the language delay, your pediatrician may recommend speech therapy, psychological therapies, or a combination of both. Speech therapy and psychological therapies can help your child improve their communication skills and increase their understanding of language.

Additionally, parents and caregivers can also help their children by encouraging language use in everyday conversations and activities. The more a child practices speaking and understanding language, the more likely it is that they will make progress.


Pediatric Speech Therapy Services by Circle of Care

It’s important to remember that language delay is very common in young children and, with the right interventions, can be successfully treated. Circle of Care provides both center-based and in-home pediatric speech therapy services throughout Texas. We create individualized and engaging treatment plans to ensure your child can overcome their language delay. Contact us to learn more or schedule a consultation today!



Learn More About Our Pediatric Therapy Services at Circle of Care