There are a wide range of causes of a speech delay. Some children may have only a delay in language, for which many children “catch up” as they get older and undergo therapy. Other children may have a more general developmental condition where speech delay is one sign of a broader condition, such as autism. Still other children could have other issues such as a hearing impairment. If you notice speech delay in your toddler, you should speak to your pediatrician or a specialized health care provider about your concerns.
Possibly, but not necessarily. About 10% of preschool children have a language delay, but only 2% of children have autism. This means that the majority of children with delayed speech do not have autism. Autism is often accompanied by other signs beyond speech delay. See this infographic for more on the signs of autism and a broader list of potential signs of autism.
If your child is not meeting common developmental milestones, you should mention this to your pediatrician or another specialized healthcare provider like Soar. Examples of common milestones by age-related to language are shown above on our website. You can also check out the CDC’s website on Milestones in Action to see a complete set of videos related to developmental milestones. For those families interested in an assessment or testing for a child, you can read more about our child psychologist Dr. Wischkaemper on the Testing page or reach out to us at 720-706-3396 to schedule an appointment.
A wide body of scientific research supports that early detection of speech delays and early intervention is beneficial to young children. Indeed, the CDC has a campaign called Learn the Signs, Act Early to encourage early detection of potential delays in young children.
Try listening to your partner’s reactions without judgment – these feelings are completely normal and everyone processes a developmental concern differently. Remember that seeking services early for your child is the most impactful way you can help them.
Seek to understand your partner’s perspective and see if there is common ground – everyone processes a developmental concern differently. You can also consider seeking therapy services and support from a licensed counselor if needed.
Some providers may have been trained during a time when a “watch and wait” approach for developmental concerns was used. Today, leading medical societies including the CDC strongly advocate for early intervention to support a child’s long-term health. If you are in this situation, talk to your provider about your concerns and see if they can be addressed. You can also consider switching to another provider or asking for a second opinion. You are the ultimate advocate for your child!
Early Intervention (EI) is a government-run program focused on helping young children under the age of 3. EI programs and services covered by health insurance offer complementary approaches to helping a child. Some families access only EI services, other families access only health insurance-based services, and some access both. If you think your child needs more than what they are getting in EI, talk to your provider or pediatrician about ways to supplement that care.