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What is language delay in young children?

What is a  language delay?

A language delay is a type of communication disorder. Your child may have a language delay if they don’t use language skills that would be expected for child of their age. Their language abilities may be developing at a slower rate than most children’s. They may have trouble expressing themselves or understanding others.

Language delays are quite common. Research suggests that up to 10% of children have a language delay.

Are there different types of language delays?

Language delays can be

  • receptive
  • expressive
  • or a combination of both

A receptive language delay is when your child has difficulty understanding language. An expressive language disorder happens when your child has difficulty communicating verbally. Some children have an overall language delay and are behind in both receptive and expressive language skills.

How do I know if my child has language delay?

Every child develops at his or her own pace. The variation in language development can be huge. However, if your child doesn’t follow instruction like other children their age then there may be a language delay. If your child doesn’t talk as much as most children of the same age, the problem may be language delay.

Symptoms of a language delay

Your child may have a language delay if they can’t:

  • Follow simple instruction such as ‘no’ or ‘stop’ by 18 months of age
  • Don’t use a minimum of 30 words by the age of two years
  • Can’t answer simple questions by the age of 3 years
  • Don’t talk in 3 word phrase by the age of 3 years

What causes a speech and language delay?

Language delays in children have many possible causes. In some instances, more than one factor contributes to a language delay. Some common causes include the following:

  • Hearing impairment: It’s common for children who have a hearing impairment to have a language impairment as well. If they can’t hear language, learning to communicate can be difficult.
  • Autism: While not all children with autism have language delays, autism frequently affects communication.
  • Intellectual disability: A variety of intellectual disabilities can cause language delays. For instance, dyslexia and other learning disabilities lead to language delays in some cases.
  • Several psychosocial issues: These can cause language delays, as well. For example, severe neglect can lead to problems with language development.

Language delays can have many causes. Some children may have more than one factor that contributes to language delay. Other children have no apparent reason for the language delay. Common causes include:

  • A hearing loss or repeated ear infections. It is difficult to develop language skills when you can’t hear language around you.
  • Later development generally. Some children simply develop at a slower pace than others. They may be slower in language development, or they may be slower across all areas of development.
  • a developmental disorder such as autism. Not eery child with autism has a language delay, but they always have challenges understanding and using social language.
  • Being born premature. Premature babies may have language delay and this is monitored from an early age.

Does a bilingual home affect a child’s development?

A bilingual child can take longer to develop language skills. Being bilingual does not mean that your child will be behind their peers, but it can take longer to develop language. Some bilingual children have high rlanguage skills than their peers by the age of seven years.

What are the risk factors for developing a language delay?

The potential risk factors for a language delay include:

  • being male
  • being born prematurely
  • a low birth weight
  • having a family history of speech or language problems
  • parents with lower levels of education

How is a language delay diagnosed?

Speech Pathologists diagnose a language delay. The Speech Pathology assessment looks at all areas of language development. The Speech Pathologist may refer a child to an audiologist for a hearing assessment. They may refer a child to a paediatrician for an overall developmental assessment.

Treatment for a language delay

If your child has a language delay then they probably need Speech Pathology. Some child have very mild delays and parent training is the best intervention. Some children needs regular, weekly Speech Pathology sessions. Other children have more complex communication delays and this means long term Speech Pathology with higher intensity of sessions.

Our Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy clinic in Bondi Junction

OneOnOne Children’s Therapy is a Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy clinic located in Bondi Junction in Sydney. Our Speech Pathologists can answer any concerns you have about your child. If you want to know how we can help your child then call us on (02) 80657837 or email us.

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