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Language Delay

Speech and Language Delay

Language development is considered delayed when it occurs in the right sequence but at a slower rate than normal. To know if your child has a language delay, you must first understand what is normal at different ages.

Under 12 Months
Children under 12 months should be using their voices to relate to their environment. Cooing and babbling are early stages of speech development. As bafies get older (around 9 months), they begin to string sounds together, incorporate different tones of voice, and say words like mama and dada (though they may not understand these words). 
Before 12 months, babies should also be attentive to the sounds around them and recognize the names of common objects (e.g., bottle, ball). Babies who watch intently but don't react to sound may be showing signs of hearing loss.

By 12 to 15 Months
By 12 to 15 months, children should be using a wide range of speech sounds in their babbling (e.g., p, b, m, d, or n), imitating sounds and words they hear, and saying one or more words (in addition to mama and dada). Nouns (e.g., baby and ball) usually come first. They should also be able to follow simple, one-step directions (e.g., Give me the toy.).

From 18 to 24 Months
By 18 months, most toddlers say about 20 words, and by the age of 2, they have a vocabulary of 50 words or more. By age 2, they start to combine two words to make simple sentences, such as baby crying or Daddy big. A 2-year-old should be able to identify common objects (real objects and in pictures), point to eyes, ears, or nose when asked, and follow two-step commands (e.g., Pick up the toy and give it to me.).

From 2 to 3 Years
Between the ages of 2 and 3, children often make huge gains in their language development. Their vocabulary should increase to more words than you would count, and they should routinely combine three or more words into sentences.

Comprehension should also increase. By 3 years, children should understand what it means to put it on the table or put it under the bed. They should begin to identify colours and understand descriptive concepts (e.g., big versus little).

There is a difference between a speech delay and a language delay. Speech refers to the production of sounds, so a child with a speech delay learns certain sounds later than normal. The term language focuses on the meaning of what is said, so if a child has a language delay, language is developed in the right sequence, but at a slower rate than normal. Delayed speech and/or language development is the most common developmental problem, affecting 5–10% of preschool children.

At SVS-Rehab we are trained to work with children with delayed speech and/or language. We design individualized programs for all children, to meet their needs and enhance their communication abilities to the fullest. For an appointment please call us at 905-302-0998 or email us at

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