How do I know if my child has a speech or language delay?

Does my child have a speech or language delay? We help families in Anne Arundel County and Prince George's County.

This is a question that we are asked regularly.  Parents often reach out to us by phone, through email, or on Facebook wondering if their child is developing typically or if they are delayed.


At Kid Connections, we strive to help families in Anne Arundel County and Prince George's County answer this question.


We know there is a lot of conflicting information about when to refer your child for a speech or language evaluation. Your child’s preschool teacher may have concerns, while your pediatrician does not. Your in-laws may make passing comments about your child’s communication skills, while your spouse may argue that he or she can understand your child “just fine.”


We understand this can feel frustrating, confusing, and isolating.  We are here to help!

Red Flags

Here are some red flags to consider in infants, including red flags for hearing loss:

  • Doesn't respond to sound
  • Doesn’t attempt to smile, play, or communicate with others
  • Doesn’t make speech-like sounds before the first year (“buh,” “puh,” “duh,” or “mmm” are the most common first sounds.

These are red flags to consider in toddlers (ages 2-3):

  • Says only a few words at 12–18 months
  • Doesn't put words together to make sentences by 2 years
  • Says fewer than 50 words by 2 years
  • Has trouble playing with other children
  • Produces speech that is unclear, even to familiar people
  • Children age two should be about 50% understandable
  • Children age three should be about 75% understandable

Here are some red flags for preschoolers (ages 4-5):

  • Ignores other children or doesn’t respond to people outside the family
  • Doesn't use "me" and "you" correctly
  • Shows no interest in interactive games or make-believe
  • Doesn't follow 3-part commands
  • Speaks unclearly
  • Doesn't talk about daily activities or experiences
  • Doesn't use plurals or past tense properly

There are a variety of factors to consider when diagnosing a speech or language delay, so if it doubt, get an evaluation or screening. In fact, many facilities, including early intervention agencies, public schools, and even private practices offer free screenings or phone consultations. Don't let conflicting information stop you from taking action.

red flags for speech and language delay in preschool children

Bottom Line

No one can determine if your child has a speech or language delay except a qualified professional, like a speech-language pathologist.



Know your child's Milestones

Understanding milestones for your child's language and communication development will help you determine whether or not your child has a speech delay.  It helps you have a better understanding of your child's behavior and if you should be concerned about his/her language and communication.


Get access to the free printable resource by clicking on the button below, and gain a better understanding of your child's developmental milestones. Know when it is safe to wait and see, or when you need to get help from a professional. 

Do you have concerns for your child?  Give us a call at 410-274-0041 to speak with a speech-language pathologist today!

Shanna Klump is a speech-language pathologist and CEO of Kid Connections Therapy, a speech/language therapy clinic in Severna Park, Maryland.