5 warning signs that your child needs to see a Speech Pathologist

With a toddler and newborn bub along the way, there is a lot to think about! We are busily preparing for the new little man to arrive while also keeping Starfish entertained and happy (can you believe he’s 2?!). And as a teacher, I am always trying to find ways to support Starfish’s development and growth, particularly when meeting milestones. While we haven’t had to worry about his language development, I know many parents (personally and through the Mumma Morrison community) who are concerned about some aspect of their child’s speech, and have been wondering what are the warning signs that your child needs to see a Speech Pathologist. Lucky for us, the amazing Lauren Crumlish from Speech Clinic is sharing with us on the blog today the top 5 things parents should look out for with your child’s language development.

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What are the 5 warning signs that your child needs to see a speech pathologist?

There are many warning signs that your child may need speech therapy. This article will share five red flags that all parents should be aware of.

Speech Pathology is a vast health field. Speech and Language Pathologists treat delays and disorders relating to:

  • Speech clarity,
  • Language,
  • Literacy,
  • Stuttering,
  • Feeding,
  • Voice pathology and;
  • Social interactions.

Paediatric Speech pathologists assess, diagnose and treat these delays and disorders. The following five warning signs are related to communication difficulties between 0-5 years. If you have specific concerns about your little one, contact your local Speech Clinic.

Your little one is 12-18 months of age and hasn’t started using words

We expect children (both boys and girls!) to develop their first words around their first birthday. Some children may even begin using words before this time. Your baby should be babbling, cooing and exploring their voice leading up to their first birthday. If your little one isn’t using words by the time they are 18 months of age, they will be at risk of not meeting their 2 and 3-year-old communication milestones.

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Your little one has been stuttering for several months

We expect a certain amount of disfluency around three years of age when a little one begins using connected language. In fact, even adults are not fluent all the time! However, you should expect that any disfluency should subside with time. If there is a family history of stuttering or if your little one’s disfluency is growing worse, it may be time to seek professional help. Dysfluency or true stuttering that persists past 6-7 years of age, may become a life-long disorder. It is important to seek early intervention for all communication difficulties. There is a particularly strong evidence base to support early intervention for fluency disorders.

You are the only one who can understand your child’s speech

Speech sound development is a dynamic, ongoing process. A two-year-old should be understood by unfamiliar people 50% of the time, a three-year-old’s speech 75% of the time and a four-year-old’s 90% of the time. By the time a child is five, their speech sound system should be very “adult-like” with only the /r/ and /th/ sounds in error. While certain sounds may be simplified in the toddler years, initial sounds or large portions of words should never be deleted from spoken words (e.g., sun —> _un; monkey —> mo_ey).

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Your little one’s language development has plateaued

Language development begins at birth. Some early milestones may be subtle (for example, orienting toward noise in a room). Language development is an ongoing process and a little one’s first words will typically emerge around the time of their first birthday. From this point, you should see words rapidly emerging. In fact, children will develop many hundreds of words by the time they are two years old. This will allow them to begin combining words (e.g., mummy go! Push big car!). If you feel like your child’s language development has plateaued or even regressed it is time to seek professional support.

Your child experiences difficulty understanding your words and following instructions

Your child’s receptive language (their understanding of language) will also progress through expected developmental stages. When your child is one, they should be able to follow simple, one-step instructions (e.g., where’s Teddy?). At two years, your child should understand many words and should be able to follow two-part instructions (e.g., give me the plate and the spoon). By three years, a child should be able to follow three-part instructions and understand and engage in conversations.

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If you have any concerns about any aspects of your child’s communication development, it is critical to seek professional support. Taking proactive steps can minimise the impacts of difficulties!

For more information on Lauren Crumlish and the services she provides at Speech Clinic, be sure to visit her website, her Facebook or her Instagram accounts. She shares some amazing resources via these sites, including her AH-MAZING Animated Series that has these insightful and creative videos all about early language development and the importance of early interventions for children. I have included one below for your information (but check out the series as she has dedicated videos for 0-12 months and 12-24 months!).


This is a sponsored guest post written by Lauren Crumlish of Speech Clinic.

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