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The Importance of Recognizing Speech Delays in Children

Rogers Bridge » Receptive and Expressive Language Delays » The Importance of Recognizing Speech Delays in Children

Families seek speech therapy services for a variety of reasons and start the therapy journey at different times in a child’s life. While families are aware of a need for speech therapy when children are incapable of producing sounds correctly, they might not realize that language delay is also a critical area in which speech therapy is invaluable. Some language delays are due to medical diagnoses like Autism and Down Syndrome, but these delays are certainly not limited to medical issues. Most families do not suspect the child has a language delay until signs are observed by other family members, teachers, or pediatricians. 
When I initially begin working with families, any difficulty the child is having is discussed along with the length of time these difficulties have been occurring.

"At 6, 12, and 18 months, I honestly wasn't sure if she would ever talk. Hearing her express her ideas, have conversations, and sing (!) now at 3.5 regularly brings tears to my eyes." — Gina D. (full review lower)

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It is quite common for parents to say, “I didn’t know he was delayed” or “I thought she would outgrow it.” When parents do not realize that language delay can be addressed by speech therapy or if they fail to recognize the signs of language delay, it takes longer for them to seek intervention if ever. Most children do not simply “outgrow” language delays. Waiting for language delays to remediate themselves results in a problem which is compounded and which will require more lengthy intervention. Seeking intervention early is key to remediating difficulties and preventing more complex issues such as lack of speech, difficulty engaging in play activities, and not comprehending messages.
It is important for parents or caregivers to understand speech and language development and to recognize the early signs of delay. The earlier children receive services from a speech language pathologist, the more likely they are to be successful with their speech and language development. 
Receptive language (the ability to understand) and Expressive language (the ability to express thoughts) are both important to the communication process. Delays in these areas are the reason for some difficulties in functional communication skills. These delays vary in severity, can be caused by a variety of factors, and can occur across all ages. There are many signs of receptive and expressive language delays. We have included the most common signs of delays in toddlers and children to help you determine if your child has a communication delay.

7 signs of receptive and expressive language delays in...


  • Not responding to name

  • Limited or no eye contact

  • Unable to interact with another person during play

  • Unable to follow directions

  • Minimal babbling or vocalizations

  • Not producing words by 12 months old

  • Not using 2-word combinations by 18 months


  • Unable to follow multistep directions

  • Unable to answer questions or answers questions incorrectly

  • Unable to remember things

  • Not interested in communicating with others

  • Limited or below average vocabulary

  • Using incorrect word order in sentences

  • Incorrect word tenses

If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, we feel confident that we have successful language development strategies which would benefit your child. We offer a free phone consultation to discuss your concerns and offer comprehensive speech and language evaluations to identify areas of delay.


"Jessie is such a loving and caring therapist. Her passion for helping her patients and families show every visit. She is open to what works for each patient while being effective and productive. She is responsive and able to adapt to her patient's moods. Speech therapy has never been my son's favorite, and he has been to known to be a bit difficult, but it never slowed Jessie down. She was always so loving and made the sessions fun for him. I would recommend her to anyone looking for a great therapist." – Belinda

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