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Children develop at their own rate. Some children walk and talk early. Others take longer. Most children learn skills within an age range, such as between 12 and 18 months. A child who takes longer to learn a skill may have a problem.
It is important that you know what to expect. Below are some signs of speech, language, and hearing problems. You'll see the expected age range next to each skill.
Feeding and swallowing disorders can lead to health, learning, and social problems. Feeding disorders include problems with sucking, eating from a spoon, chewing, or drinking from a cup. Swallowing disorders, also called dysphagia (dis-FAY-juh) are difficulties with moving food or liquid from the mouth, throat, or esophagus to the stomach. Feeding and swallowing disorders are often related to other medical conditions but may also occur without a known cause.
Your child may have a feeding or swallowing problem if they:
Not every child has every sign listed here. Your child may show a few signs or many of them. Your child may be at risk for:
Language is made up of the words we use to share ideas and get what we want. Language includes listening, speaking, understanding, reading, and writing. A child with a language disorder may have trouble with one or more of these skills.
Signs of language problems include:
|Not smiling or playing with others
|Making only a few sounds. Not using gestures, like waving or pointing.
|7 months–2 years
|Not understanding what others say
|Saying only a few words
|Not putting two words together
|Saying fewer than 50 words
|Having trouble playing and talking with other children
|Having problems with early reading and writing. For example, your child may not like to draw or look at books.
You can help your child learn language by
Speech is how we say sounds and words. It is normal for young children to say some sounds the wrong way. Some sounds do not develop until a child is 4, 5, or 6 years old. Signs of a speech sound disorder in young children include:
|Not saying p, b, m, h, and w the right way in words most of the time
|Not saying k, g, f, t, d, and n the right way in words most of the time. Being hard to understand, even to people who know the child well.
You can help your child learn to say sounds by
Most of us pause or repeat a sound or word when we speak. When this happens a lot, the person may stutter. Young children may stutter for a little while. This is normal and will go away over time. Signs that stuttering might not stop include:
You can help your child by
We use our voice to make sounds. Our voice can change when we use it the wrong way. We can lose our voice when we are sick or after talking or yelling a lot. Signs that your child may have a voice disorder include:
You can help your child by:
Some children have a hearing loss at birth. Others lose their hearing as they get older. Some signs that your child may have a hearing loss include:
|Not paying attention to sounds
|7 months–1 year
|Not responding when you call her name
|Not following simple directions
|Having speech and language delays
You can help your child by:
Getting help early is better than waiting. You may be able to get free or low-cost services for your child. Talk to your doctor or contact your local school. They can tell you about early intervention programs and other services. To learn more about communication and feeding skill development, visit ASHA's Developmental Milestones: Birth to 5 Years.
Speech-language pathologists, or SLPs, help children who have language, speech sound, stuttering, or voice problems. Audiologists help people who have trouble hearing.
Look for an SLP or audiologist who has earned the Certificate of Clinical Competence, or CCC, from ASHA. ASHA-certified SLPs have "CCC-SLP" after their names. ASHA-certified audiologists have "CCC-A" after their names.
To find a speech-language pathologist or audiologist near you, visit ProFind.