Signs & Symptoms of Speech Difficulties

Signs & Symptoms of Speech Difficulties – Children

Although there is some variation in the speech/language development of individual children, here is some general information about when it may be appropriate to seek a speech/language evaluation. Consider a speech/language evaluation:
  • If your child is not talking by age two.

  • If after age three, your child:
    – Uses speech that is difficult to understand
    – Is not using 2-3 word sentences
    – Frequently leaves off the beginning sounds of words
    – Uses mostly vowels
    – Repeats what others say instead of responding to others
    – Cannot answer “who” or “what” questions
    – Appears not to understand spoken directions unless you gesture or point along with the directions

  • If after age four, your child:
    – Has trouble saying early developing sounds:  p,b,t,d,k,g,h,w,n,m.
    – Is not using short sentences of 4-5 words.
    – Leaves off word endings.
    – Cannot answer “where” or “why” questions.

  • If after age five, your child:
    – Uses poor sentence structure and grammar (may leave out or mix up words).
    – Has trouble listening to a story of more than 4-5 sentences
    – Cannot follow 2-3 part directions.
    – Cannot answer “how” questions.

  • If your child has difficulty with any speech sounds by age eight.

  • If, at any age, your child is embarrassed, disturbed, or frustrated by his/her speech.

Possible Signs of Fluency (Stuttering Problems)

Many children undergo some periods of disfluent speech (stuttering).  Although the following signs may occur in children experiencing normal disfluency, if they occur, it may be appropriate to seek a speech/language evaluation.
  • Child frequently repeats the first sound or syllable of words-especially when the sound is repeated more than two times.

  • Child uses “uh” vowel instead of the correct vowel when repeating syllables. For example, “buh-buh-buh-baby” instead of “bay-bay-bay-baby.”

  • Child frequently stretches out (prolongs) sounds that become longer and longer.

  • Child shows trembling of the muscles (tremors) around the mouth and jaw during speech.

  • Child’s pitch or loudness rises during a repetition or prolongation.

  • Child demonstrates tension and struggle behavior while saying certain words.

  • Child shows a look of fear while saying a word.

  • Child avoids using certain words and may pause frequently or substitute for difficult words.

  • Child struggles with starting or keeping good airflow for speech.  Breathing may sound irregular or speech may come in spurts.

Speech/language disorders can impact school performance by causing difficulty with:

  • Reading comprehension

  • Using complete sentences when writing or speaking

  • Learning new vocabulary

  • Following directions

  • Sounding out words for reading and spelling

  • Grammar skills

  • Using language in a variety of social situations

  • Pronouncing speech sounds