Language Delay in Preschoolers

Parents may be worried when their little child, who is around the age of two, is still showing no signs of talking. He is able to utter a few words, but still lacks way behind when compared to other children of his age. It may be even more worrying when this child is not your first child, and your previous children were able to talk and construct sentences at this age. Parents from all over the globe experience the above mentioned situation. Parents are usually afraid of seeking expert advice in the fear of hearing something unusual.

It is important to understand whether your child’s behavior is normal or not, and whether you should be concerned regarding his inability to construct sentences and speak much at this age. What’s normal and abnormal language development in preschoolers. What are the signs of language delay in 5 year old or other preschoolers?

Normal Language Development in Preschoolers


Normal Language Development

12 months

Is able to say at least one or two words; can recognize names; is able to understand simple instructions; imitates familiar sounds.

18 months

Can speak at least five to twenty words, some of which include names.

Between 1 and 2 years

The child is able to say at least two word sentences; is able to wave goodbyes; the child is starting to make sounds of animals that are familiar; the child’s vocabulary is gradually increasing; the child understands “no”; the child is able to make his or her wants known.

Between 2 and 3 years

The child is able to identify body parts; the process of self-recognition has begun and the child starts referring to himself or herself as “me”; the child is able to combine nouns and words; the vocabulary of the child has increased to around 450 words; the child can now construct small sentences; the ability to match colors begins; begins to develop liking for stories; can differentiate between big and small and is able to form certain plurals.

Between 3 and 4 years

The child can now tell you a story; vocabulary has expanded to around 1000 words; the child now knows the name of the street and his or her last name, as well as certain nursery rhymes; the child can also now construct sentences of four to five words.

Between 4 and 5 years

The vocabulary is now of around 1500 words; the child can now identify colors and shapes and begins asking questions; the child has also begun using the past tense.

Between 5 and 6 years

The child can now identify what objects are made up of; the child also knows spatial relations; the child is able to notice differences; the child now knows his or her address and can identify things such as a penny, a dime, or a nickel. The child can count at least ten things and uses all types of sentences.

Language Delay in Preschoolers

The most common development problems faced by children are the language and speech problems. The problem of language development is referred to as the child’s inability to express or comprehend certain information, and even lacks behind in understanding simple directions.

Causes of Language Delay in Preschoolers

There are a number of causes of language and speech delays. The most common problems are the exposure of the child to more than one language that often leaves him or her confused. Some of the alarming problems may be a learning disability that is preventing the child from comprehending basic things, the problem of hearing loss due to which he or she is unable to learn, or could also be caused by problems such as Autism.

Signs of Language Delay in Preschoolers

The following signs act as indicators to alarm you that there is a language delay issue in your preschooler.


Signs of Language Delay

12 months

If your child is not communicating with you at all, by using sounds, any words, or even gestures, and is unable to ask you for help or reflect his needs, then this is a sign of language delay.

By 2 years

Your child is still not able to combine two or more words, or his or her vocabulary is much less than 50 words. Furthermore, if the child is unable to speak words spontaneously and is unable to understand simple questions and instructions, that this is also rather alarming. You must keep in mind that only one in five children begin to show signs of a possible language delay at the age of 2. It is possible that your child will show improvement as he or she grows up, or the problem may increase.

By 3 years

If at this age, your child is not able to understand questions and instructions, your child is not questioning you much, and shows no interest in reading books, something is wrong.

By 4 years

If by the age of 4, your child is not able to construct sentences of at least or more than three words, and cannot differentiate between “me” and “you”, then this is also an indication of language delay.

B5 years

The signs of language delay in 5 year old are that he/she is still unable to tell his or her first as well as the last name, is less interested in talking about the daily things in his or her life, does not use plurals or past tense, and cannot comprehend commands combined with prepositions, then this must be taken as a sign.

Warning: If your child has suddenly stopped doing certain things or has completely stopped talking, then this may indicate to a serious problem of a language delay. If your child is suffering from a hearing loss, Autism, Asperger’s syndrome or Down syndrome, then these may hinder his or her language development.

How Can You Help at Home?

There are certain things that can be used as a home therapy to help your child overcome this problem.

  • ŸYou must first make sure that your child is looking into your eye when you are interacting with them. This strategy will help your child to remain focused on what you are saying, and remain focused on all the gestures you are using. The more focused they are, the more easily they will be able to learn from you.
  • You must also correct your child when he or she utters a wrong sentence, but make sure you do that in a positive notein order to encourage them. For example, if your child says “I runned”, you must correct him or her and say, “Yes, you ran, you ran very fast, you ran right to mummy”. The more you repeat this sentence, the easier it will be for your child to understand where he or she went wrong.
  • Try to introduce your child to new words and actions, and provide them with description of words that they are talking about. You may include words that are about shapes, colors, feelings, and sizes.
  • Remember, that repetition is the key to allow your child to grasp what you are teaching them, quickly, and easily.

Professional Treatments for Speech Delays in Preschoolers

When to Get Help?

Keep in mind that children have different language development rates, and comparing your child with other children, may not provide you with correct or proper indications of whether or not your child has a language delay problem. You must always seek advice from a professional if any of the above mentioned signs begin to start appearing in your child’s behavior.

Where to Get Help?

If your child is showing any of the signs, you may take the help of a speech pathologist, an audiologist, a pediatrician, a psychologist or can take the help of a childcare center. 

Speech Pathologists

Speech pathologists are able to understand and gauge your child’s ability of using language. The speech pathologist may decide to carry out language tests to check if your child responds to commands, questions, or requests.

The speech pathologist will first ask you for all the history of your child, starting from when your child said his or her first word, when the child began to walk, if your child was born premature or not, the history regarding your family, and will then help you jot down the real problem.

If the speech pathologist suspects any issue of language delay, he or she will provide you with all the knowledge of the therapy sessions that may help your child. These sessions include one-on-one sessions, or even group sessions, in order to encourage your child to participate. 

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