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  • Writer's pictureCarissa Johnson


How do we differentiate speech sound delays from normal development?

When children are first learning to talk, they often say words in funny and unexpected ways. As parents, most of us have at least one story about our child mispronouncing a word, and the embarrassing moments that followed! It is completely normal (and adorable) for children to mispronounce words… but when speech sound errors persist beyond a certain age, this can cause issues in reading, writing, and social interaction. For this reason, it’s important to identify articulation (speech) problems early!

How speech and language delays are different?

Although the two are often difficult to tell apart — and frequently referred to together — there are some differences between a speech delay and language delay. Speech is the physical act of producing sounds and saying words. A toddler with a speech delay may try but have trouble forming the correct sounds to make words. A speech delay doesn’t involve comprehension or nonverbal communication. Language involves understanding and communicating, both verbally and nonverbally. So language includes vocabulary and how we use words to express ourselves.

A child can have speech difficulties even if their language is age appropriate. Or a child can have normal speech development but struggle with language skills. And it is possible for a child to have difficulties in both speech and language.


So how do you know if your child has a speech delay? Here are a few signs....

  • limited consonant repertoire/only uses a few sounds

  • distorted vowels or consonants

  • stuck using single syllable utterances

  • fewer than 5 consonant sounds by 24 months

  • productions are mainly vowels with limited use of other syllable shapes

  • very few consistent words or word approximations

This list does not include all possible signs, but it includes some clear indicators that a toddler may need additional assistance with developing speech sounds.


Play On Words Therapy Solutions has supported so many parents through the diagnosis of a speech/language delay. If you have questions, need support, or just want to learn more about pediatric speech and language skills, reach out.

Play On Words Therapy Solutions provides in home speech language therapy services throughout the Tampa Bay Area!

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