All children are different when it comes to developing language skills. If you feel there is a difference between your child and other children of a similar age, be reassured that most will catch up. However, it is best to seek professional advice if you see any of the following signs:
When your newborn doesn't:
- respond to sudden loud noises e.g. ambulance siren, dog barking.
- turn their heads towards the sound itself.
- isn't making sounds or responding to loud noises.
By 12 months of age if your baby isn't:
- turning their heads to soft sounds
- trying to communicate with you in a variety of ways using sounds, gestures, eye contacts, and/or words, particularly when needing help or wanting something.
By 3 years old, if your toddler:
- can't understand simple instructions/questions e.g. where's daddy?
- isn't saying about 50 words
- if more than half of their words are unclear
- doesn't use their words and gestures to try and interact with you e.g. to tell you what they want or need, waving to indicated that they are saying goodbye.
- uses words that are unusual and may be out of context e.g. not be able to link what they are saying with what is actually happening at the time and is copying words/phrases and saying them repeatedly
- isn't combining two or more words together e.g. more drink
- isn't pointing to objects to share their interest with others by 2 years of age
By 5 years old, if your child:
- isn't combining words to make longer sentences to tell you what they need e.g. I want snack or unable to share their interests with you e.g. look, a bus
- isn't understanding longer instruction e.g. pick up your cup and put it in the the sink
- is not clear and able to be understood by most people
- uses words unusually e.g. they may have more words than you can count, but they don't use them to talk to people, or if they have parrot like repetitive speech or if they continue to speak in a made up language that you can't understand
- Takes and ues your hand as a means of getting what they want
When starting school:
- you can't have a chat with them about things which interest them and you e.g. 'what would you like to have for dinner today?' 'What do you think mummy would like to do for her birthday?'
You should be concerned at any age if your child stops doing what they were previously able to do so.