speech and language disorder

In our pursuit of increasing accessibility, we want to equip you with the knowledge and signs to keep your child happy and healthy. A speech and language disorder can be subtle and easily overlooked if you don’t know what to look for. Identifying the problem early can significantly impact a child’s development and educational journey.

What is a speech or language disorder?

A speech or language disorder encompasses any difficulty in comprehending or articulating speech.  The disorder can range from difficulty with sound substitution to an inability to understand or use language. A child’s communication skills are considered to be delayed when the child appears to be behind their peers in speech and language. The cause of the disorder could be many different factors, including hearing loss, oral motor delay, brain damage, intellectual disability, or physical impairment.

Catching the warning signs

Identifying early warning signs and obtaining a diagnosis promptly can streamline the treatment journey, reducing costs and minimizing challenges for both you and your child. Here are some observations to assist you in evaluating your child.

  • Lack of smiling or social interaction: From birth onward, the child rarely smiles or engages with others.
  • No babbling: By 4 to 7 months, the child doesn’t babble or make playful sounds.
  • Limited sounds and gestures: Between 7 and 12 months, the child uses only a few sounds or gestures, such as pointing.
  • Poor comprehension: Between 7 months and 2 years, the child struggles to understand simple words or instructions.
  • Sparse vocabulary: By 12 to 18 months, the child uses very few words.
  • Hard-to-understand speech: From 18 months to 2 years, the child’s speech is difficult for others to understand.
  • No sentence construction: By 1.5 to 3 years, the child is not able to combine words to form basic sentences.
  • Unclear speech: By ages 2 to 3, the child’s speech remains unclear, even to familiar people.


The course of treatment will vary based on the origin of the disorder and the child’s specific challenges. A general course of treatment is first to get an evaluation from a speech-language pathologist or therapist who will run several tests to identify a clear diagnosis. Additional tests may be done to understand the source of the disorder. The next step is speech or language therapy sessions. During these sessions, your child will work independently or in small groups to learn and practice strategies. This will help your child model correct vocabulary, grammar, and build language skills.

Speech and language disorders in children can be subtle, yet have significant long-term impacts if not addressed early. Recognizing the warning signs and getting your child checked will help them develop the communication skills they need to succeed. 

If you know someone in your life who has a speech or language disorder, advocate for captions! Captions provide access to solutions for learning and communication for those with a speech or language disorder. We are committed to making communication and language accessible to everyone. Join us in breaking down barriers and promoting inclusivity.