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When to be Concerned about Your Child's Speech and Language Development

Kimberly A. Bell, M.S.,CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist, SPEECH PATHways, Maryland

One of the most frequent questions I receive when people find out I am a pediatric speech-language pathologist is, "How do I know when to be concerned about my child's speech and language development?" This is a difficult question to answer because the exact age at which children will master developmental milestones varies greatly. However, I generally like to educate parents on some of the key signs and symptoms that may indicate a need for closer evaluation by a speech-language pathologist. Speech-language pathologists (often referred to as speech therapists) are the professionals who are educated to assess speech and language development and to treat speech and language disorders.

It is important for parents to realize that both social and academic success depends on well-developed speech and language skills. Certain factors often place children at a higher risk for having speech and language delays. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Your child is experiencing or has experienced frequent ear infections.
  • Your child has had an extended stay in the hospital (six months or more).
  • Your child is not understood by playmates or others outside of the immediate family.
  • Your child is frustrated when trying to communicate and this does not improve in 1-2 months
  • Your child has a delay of one year or more in developing speech & language skills.
  • Your child is a "picky" eater and/or has limited food preferences.

Common indications that your child may be having a speech and/or language delay include, but are not limited to:

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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