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Speech and Language Warning Signs

The following are speech and language warning signs that will help determine if a child requires speech and language therapy services.  Please be aware that there is a wide range of normal development.  Not all children will have mastered all of the following skills within the following ages listed.  However, if you find that the child’s development is significantly delayed when compared to the skills listed, it may be a good idea to have them evaluated by a certified Speech-Language Pathologist.

By age 2 years the child:

  • Does not understand any complex sentences
  • Does not use any 2 word combinations
  • Cannot identify common objects and pictures when named
  • Cannot identify up to 5 body parts
  • Does not refer to self by name
  • Does not talk about things they are interested in
  • Does not understand new words daily
  • Does not use up to 50 words
  • Does not use any pronouns

By age 3 years the child:

  • Is not understood by family and/or caregivers
  • Does not use at least 3-6 word combinations
  • Cannot repeat when not understood without becoming frustrated
  • Does not understand what objects do (function of objects)
  • Cannot correctly produce vowels
  • Cannot correctly produce the sounds p, b, m, and w in words
  • Does not understand basic concepts such as little & big, hot & cold
  • Does not have a vocabulary of close to 1,000 words
  • Does not attend to activities for up to 10 minutes
  • Cannot repeat up to at least 3 numbers

By age 4 years the child:

  • Is not understood by family and/or caregivers
  • Is not understood by individuals they don’t associate with regularly
  • Does not have a vocabulary of close to 1,500 words
  • Cannot express complex ideas in short sentences
  • Cannot understand basic prepositions such as on, in, under, beside
  • Does not use past tense verbs correctly
  • Cannot be asked to repeat without becoming sensitive
  • Does not understand “why” and “how” questions
  • Cannot identify basic colors
  • Cannot correctly produce t, d, k, g, f
  • Cannot count to 10

By age 5 years the child:

  • Does not have a working knowledge of the grammatical
  • principles of their native language
  • Is not understood in all situations by most listeners
  • Cannot correctly produce most speech sounds
  • Cannot carry out more complex commands of 2-3 steps
  • Does not understand right vs. left
  • Cannot be asked to repeat without exhibiting frustration
  • Does not use sentences of at least 5-6 words
  • Does not use “I” instead of “me”

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