Frequently Asked Questions

My doctor says I should just wait and see. What can a speech therapist do if my child isn’t even talking yet?

Speech therapists do much more than just help children with clarity of speech. They have knowledge of speech and language development beginning the moment your child is born. Many speech therapists specialize in working with early developing language and help children learn how to communicate with gesture and words, understand language, and even encourage play skills. There is a lot that can and should be done before your child is talking to help them start on the road to communication.

Is it okay that I don’t understand what my child says?

Yes, many children do not speak clearly when they are first learning to talk. As a general rule, you should be able to understand 50% of what your two year old says, 75% of what your three year old says and 100% of what your four year old says. While children are going through the large task of learning words, they typically simplify how they say these words. Once they have mastered a larger vocabulary, they will go back and refine their words to make them clearer.

I see autism so much in the news. Could that be my child?

Maybe. The diagnosis of autism is on the rise. If you are concerned, it is best to have your child evaluated early. We know that early intervention makes a significant difference for children with autism spectrum disorder. Keep in mind, though, that a language delay does not necessarily mean your child has autism.

Can ear infections impact language development?

Yes, ear infections and/or fluid in the ears can greatly impact the development of speech and language. This is not true for all children, but if your child has a history of chronic ear infections and a language delay, this is something you should explore. When you have fluid in your ears or an infection, it can sound like you are hearing under water. This makes speech sounds difficult to pick out from the rest of the noises you hear and it may make your child less motivated to interact verbally. If your child has had many ear infections or is frequently congested, talk with your pediatrician about the possibility of having tubes placed by an ear, nose and throat specialist. These tubes will allow the pressure to equalize in your child’s ears so that fluid can drain and optimal hearing can be restored.

When should I get help?

The following is list of “redflags” to look for in your child and may indicate the need for a speech and language evaluation:

  • Not babbling, jabbering or jargoning
  • No words by 16 months
  • Not responding to your voice and/or environmental noises
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Limited eye contact
  • Limited gesture use
  • Frustration
  • Development of another mode of communication (ex. uses own “sign language”)
  • Not showing you things or asking for help
  • Still difficult to understand at the age of 4
  • Not combining words by 2
  • Loss of words at any age
  • Difficulty imitating your sounds

Will my child ever talk?

The short answer is most likely yes. On average, children begin using their first words around the age of one, but for some, the first word does not come until closer to 15 months. If your child is able to hear, understand directions, use gestures, imitate your sounds, babble, and has normal mouth movements, then the prognosis is typically good that words will come. Assistance from a speech therapist may be necessary, but most children learn to talk.

My neighbor’s child talks in full sentences. Why is my child so different?

Every child develops at their own pace. Become familiar with milestones for speech and language development and keep in mind that “normal” for each age is actually a range and not a specific point. Even if your child does have a delay, it is best to compare your child to your child. Celebrate their successes no matter how small.

Will sign language keep my child from talking?

No, in general, sign language will not stop your child from talking. It is often used as a step toward words while your child is learning to talk. It can reduce frustration in your child, and in you, and teaches your child the power of communication. If you are concerned that sign language will delay words, there are some things to keep in mind. Always say the word while you are signing so that your child hears the word. Once your child begins to imitate your speech sounds, start encouraging your child to not only sign, but to imitate the word, too. In my experience, some children may need an extra push to communicate verbally after using sign language, but the benefits far outweigh this possibility.

My child cannot say certain sounds. When should I be concerned?

All children learn speech sounds at different rates.  Some children are easy to understand as soon as they start talking, but it takes other children a little while to refine their speech.  If your child is hard to understand and struggles to pronounce certain words, speech therapy may be necessary to help your child learn to say sounds more clearly such as “s” and “r”. Your school system may be able to provide this support or you can seek out private therapy to help your child.

My doctor says I should just wait and see. What can a speech therapist do if my child isn’t even talking yet?

Speech therapists do much more than just help children with clarity of speech. They have knowledge of speech and language development beginning the moment your child is born. Many speech therapists specialize in working with early developing language and help children learn how to communicate with gesture and words, understand language, and even encourage play skills. There is a lot that can and should be done before your child is talking to help them start on the road to communication.

Where do I go to get help?

Early Intervention/Help Me Grow (Ages 0-3)

  • Delaware County (740) 203-2090
  • Franklin County (614) 227‐9860

Public Schools (Ages 3-school age)

Private Services

  • Cornerstone Speech Therapy
  • Local Hospitals
  • Specialized Clinics