5 Warning Signs That Your Toddler May Need Speech-Language Therapy

It is such an exciting time when children are first acquiring words; they can begin to express wants and needs, communicate with parents, and begin to label objects in sight. Most children will begin to speak their first words around 1 year of age, but what happens if they don’t?

Don’t panic—children progress through language milestones at different rates. Some children will start talking before 1 year of age, and others may begin a few months after. There is a typical pattern of development when acquiring speech, but this pattern may vary widely from child to child. See below to identify 5 warning signs that your child may benefit from intervention.

Warning Signs Your Toddler May Need Speech-Language Therapy:

  1. Number of words: If your child is approaching 2 years old and is using fewer than 50 words to communicate, he may benefit from an evaluation to determine the need for speech therapy.
  2. Understanding: By 2 years of age, most children should understand approximately 300 words. Parents can monitor their child’s understanding by giving simple directions, for example: get your shoes, get your coat, want more juice?
  3. Combining words: After your child acquires his first 50 words, he should begin to combine words when making requests. For example, your child may say, “more ball,” and “my truck.”
  4. Frustration: Oftentimes when children are delayed expressively, some will exhibit signs of frustration when communicating, including tantrums and hitting themselves and others.
  5. Play skills: Children showing difficulties with the acquisition of speech and language may also have difficulty with appropriate play skills. By 2 years old, children should begin to play away from their parents, and use most toys for their intended purpose.

If your child is exhibiting any of these warning signs, they may be a late-talking toddler.  A licensed speech-language pathologist can help! Parents may want to “wait and see” if their child will “catch up,” however the most successful intervention begins early, as soon as parents notice a delay. A speech-language pathologist will work both with the child and his family to help boost speech and language skills in order to maximize the child’s potential.

Click here to view our speech and language milestone infographic.

What is PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System)?

PECS or Picture Exchange Communication System is an augmentative and alternative form of communication that can be used across ages and disabilities.  It teaches functional communication that is immediately useful for individuals who have either not developed speech or who have lost speech.

Common Questions about PECS:

What about speech?

Many parents are concerned that by implementing PECS, we are disregarding speech or talking. That is not the case.  While implementing PECS, we are also addressing the development of speech. For those that have the ability to speak, we are continuously modeling and encouraging speech throughout the entire process. Read more