The rate at which children learn to speak correctly and pick up their native language can vary. There are, however, a few vital signs that your child is not progressing at the preferred rate, and may benefit from additional speech therapy.
Here we’ll dive into the main signs of speech delay and what you need to know.
What Are Speech or Language Delays in Children?
To start, let’s first understand the difference between speech delays and language delays. While speech pertains to the physical pronunciation and articulation of words, language is using these words to convey information.
Children with speech delays may be able to put together words and sentences easily, but they are difficult to understand.
Children with language delays can say their words well, but fail to articulate meaning or put a sentence together.
The Signs of a Speech Delay in Four-Year-Olds
A growing four-year-old should be able to speak well enough to be understood by most adults and be able to talk in full sentences. If your child is still struggling with the following, it may be beneficial to research speech therapy or exercises:
- Learning new words
- Making conversation with adults or children their age
- Using more complex words or leaving out essential words in sentences
- Responding to only certain parts of an instruction
- Using past/future/present tenses properly
- Understanding the meaning of stories
What Causes Speech or Language Delays?
A variety of issues can cause speech delays. Cases of oral impairment have a structural or functional problem with the tongue, teeth, frenulum, or another area of the mouth. There may also be a problem in the speech area of the brain, making it difficult for the child to coordinate their mouth to make the proper sounds. Hearing difficulties are also well-known for contributing to speech troubles and may impact the child’s ability to understand language, as well as properly.
When to Seek Help
By age four, most parents are relatively tuned-into their children’s speech patterns. If you notice that other people have difficulty understanding your child or their speech and language doesn’t match with their peers, it may be time to seek some extra help. With focused speech strategies, most children can overcome their speech delays in time.
What Parents Can Do to Help
While your child may benefit greatly from a speech therapist, there are also some habits parents can take on at home to help their child’s speech improve even faster.
- Communicate daily. Talking and singing daily can help your child practice essential speech movements and become more comfortable with the language.
- Read out loud. Reading to your child is one of the best ways to help them grasp the correct sounds of speech and sentence structures. Plus, it’s a habit that encourages learning early on.
- Practise, practise, practise. Use any opportunity to practise learning language and speaking sounds. Have your child name items around the house or out on a walk.
Written by Kaitlan D.
As well as a writer with a passion for education, Kaitlan works in a wellness practice, working with mothers, mothers-to-be and hopeful mothers.
 Hartnett J K. Delayed Speech or Language Development. 2019-11
 Raising Children. Language delay. 2020-03-25
All articles are provided as general information and are not intended, nor may it be construed, as medical advice or instruction. Information and opinions expressed are believed to be correct and accurate to the best knowledge and judgement of the authors. Readers should consult their appropriately qualified health care professional prior to taking any action or inaction.