Triple L Paediatric Speech Pathology and Audiology, Redlands City

Recognising Red Flags for
Communication Delay in Children

Identifying and understanding the red flags for communication delay in children can make a significant difference in a child's developmental communication journey.

As a speech pathologist with years of experience, I’ve seen how crucial early detection and intervention are for children facing communication delays. Understanding the red flags for communication delay in children can make a significant difference in a child’s developmental journey.

What is a Communication Delay?

A communication delay occurs when a child is not meeting typical speech and language milestones for their age. This can affect their ability to express themselves, understand others, or both. It’s important to remember that every child develops at their own pace, but there are certain signs that might indicate a need for further evaluation.

Some (but not limited to) key red flags to watch for:

Limited Babbling by 12 Months

By their first birthday, most babies are experimenting with sounds. If your baby isn’t babbling or making attempts at verbal communication, it could be a sign of a delay.

No Gesturing by 12 Months

Gestures like pointing, waving, or showing objects are important communication tools. A lack of these by 12 months might indicate a concern.

speech and language milestones

Few Words by 18 Months

By 18 months, children typically have a vocabulary of around 10-20 words. If your child has fewer words or isn’t using words meaningfully, it’s worth discussing with a professional.

Limited Phrases by 24 Months

At two years old, children often start combining two words to form simple phrases like “more juice” or “big truck.” Not seeing this development could be a sign of delay.

Difficulty Following Simple Instructions

If your child struggles to understand and follow simple instructions by 24 months, it might be an indication of a receptive language issue.

Unclear Speech at Age 3

By age three, most children are understood by familiar adults about 75% of the time. If your child’s speech is often unclear or hard to understand, it might be worth seeking an evaluation.

We have also included more signs of a communication delay in children in our picture below and put it under the different communication developmental category.

You can also check out our post on the different age communication milestones of children.

Communication Delays in Children

What Should You Do?

If you notice any of these red flags in your child, please don’t wait. Early intervention is key for children with a communication delay. Here are a couple of steps you can take:

Talk to Your GP

They can provide guidance and refer you to a specialist if needed.

Get an Evaluation

A speech and language pathologist can conduct a thorough assessment to determine if there’s a communication delay and recommend the appropriate intervention.

Remember, you are your child’s best advocate and a communication delay in children can be assessed by a speech pathologist who can provide individualised interventions that support your child’s development. Trust your instincts and seek help if you have concerns about how they are reaching their communication milestones. Early intervention can make a big difference.

You do not need a referral to make an appointment to attend our practice, Triple L Paediatric Speech Pathology and Audiology, for either an assessment or a therapy appointment. However, if you wish to apply for the Medicare rebate you will need a CDM plan from your GP.