Early Warning Signs for Communication Disorders

Do any of these lines sound familiar when discussing your toddler’s communication?

“He’s not talking much yet, but when is he supposed to?”

“I’m not sure he understands everything I say….”

“He kind of has his own language. I mean I can understand him, but others have a hard time, is that typical?”

As a Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist, these are some of the most common concerns and questions I hear from new families. Language acquisition and development is a complicated process, for both you and your child. How are you to know what’s typical and what’s not? When are those first words supposed to come? When is he supposed to follow directions?

Many parents and caregivers are unaware of these warning signs and the resulting impact they may have on their children’s speech and language development. That’s why the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has recently launched a new, nationwide effort to educate the public about communication disorders. This campaign, Identify the Signs, focuses on the recognition of early warning signs of communication disorders.

ASHA has identified the following 6 early warning signs of Communication Disorders from birth to 4 years of age:

•    Does not interact socially (infancy and older)
•    Does not follow or understand what you say (starting at 1 year)
•    Says only a few sounds, words, or gestures (18 months to 2 years)
•    Words are not easily understood (18 months to 2 years)
•    Does not combine words (starting at 2 years)
•    Struggles to say sounds or words (3 to 4 years)

Untreated communication disorders often lead to larger academic, social, and developmental issues. Early diagnosis and intervention is the most powerful way to reduce or even reverse their impact. If you have any concerns regarding your child’s communication development, take a look at the early warning signs and talk to your pediatrician. Our speech and language milestone chart is another helpful resource that can also help you understand language development.