What are the symptoms of a Speech Delay in Early Childhood

The symptoms of a Speech Delay in Early Childhood will depend on the cause of the speech disorder.  Several symptoms may present which can include but may not be limited to:

  • A child that “pauses” during speech – frequently stopping and starting new sentences;
  • A child that shows visible frustrations when trying to communicate/speak;
  • Blinking excessively during speech can be another symptom of a speech delay in early childhood
  • Elongating words when speaking so basically to draw out to a greater length the words that are being sp-o-o-o-k-e-n (spoken);
  • When the child add’s extra sounds to words or extra words to a sentence (often these will not have meaning or fit into the structure of the sentence);
  • Repeating sounds, which is most often seen in people who stutter;
  • Making jerky or “odd” movements whilst talking.  These movements will more often than not involve the Childs head.
  • Hoarseness, or speaking with a raspy or gravelly sounding voice – almost sounding forced or uncomfortable.

In very Early Childhood (as young as 18 months) symptoms of a potential speech delay would include aspects such as:

  • Not using gestures, such a pointing or waving bye-bye at a young age;
  • A child that prefers to gesture over vocalisations to community e.g. a child that will take their parents hand to point at an item they want instead of the child asking for it;
  • Young child (18-24 months) that struggle with the imitation of sounds
  • Young child (18-24 months) that has trouble with  understanding simple verbal requests or instructions;
  • By age 24 months (years) the child can only imitate speech or actions and doesn’t produce words or phrases spontaneously

Other symptoms of a potential speech delay become more visible by age 2 years when:

  • The child is visible struggling to follow instruction or direction;
  • When the child says only some sounds or words repeatedly and can’t seem to use oral language to communicate more than their immediate needs; or
  • When the child’s speech sounds nasally or raspy.
Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.