What is speech delay?

Date of Publishing:   

29 June, 2023





My toddler never talks at all like other children! What could be the cause? Is she...

Speech and language development is one of the child's earliest developmental milestones seen in early childhood. The child begins with pointing at parents and objects to get their attention and this is how she tries to communicate her needs before saying her first words. 

When she says "Mumma" or "Papa" for the very first time, it melts the heart of parents and those words do bring tears of joy. 

What if the child doesn't reach those milestones? What if the child doesn't talk at all? It is one of the biggest worries of parents and it becomes more stressful for them when the child reaches the age of two or three.

They start to feel that she is mute, but the pediatrician's diagnosis points out something else, the child has delay in speech and needs an early intervention. 

What is Speech Delay? 

A speech delay is seen in toddlers when they are not reaching their verbal milestones that are expected of their age. It is one of the common developmental delays that is found in 10% of preschool children.

Do you know there is a difference between Speech & Language Delay?

A child having Speech Delay faces challenges in making sound to say words correctly.  

A child with Language Delay can speak words and pronounce them properly. However, it is difficult for them to speak phrases or complete sentences and understand what others are saying.

Causes of Speech or Language Delays?

1) Oral Motor Issues: Oral Motor Issues are common in children with speech delays. This happens when the areas of her brain responsible for speech are underdeveloped, making it difficult to coordinate lips, tongue and jaw to make sounds.

2) Hearing Issues: Hearing plays a big part in the development of speech. If there is a speech related concern, take your child to an audiologist to test her hearing. Children who have difficulty in hearing may find it challenging to speak, understand what others are saying, learn and use the language. 

3) Ear Infections: Ear infections, especially the severe ones, can affect the child's hearing. However, if there is normal hearing in one ear then speech and language development can occur naturally.

What are the early signs of Speech & Language Delays?

Before going to a doctor for a diagnosis, how you as a parent will be able to determine that your child is taking a little longer to reach her speech and language milestones

We have prepared a list of early signs that are visible in children age-wise:

12 Months

  • Not using gestures (pointing or waving hand) to communicate.

18 Months

  • Only using gestures to communicate instead of speaking.
  • Unable to imitate sounds. 
  • Difficulty in understanding simple verbal requests.

2 Years

  • Can only imitate speech or actions, but unable to say words or phrases naturally.
  • Repeating the same sound or words.
  • Difficulty in verbally communicating his needs.
  • Cannot follow simple instructions.
  • Having an unusual tone of voice.

If you notice any of these early signs, contact your doctor right away.

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