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Language  Delays

A language delay occurs when a child’s language is developing slower than other children

of the same age, but it is following the typical pattern of development.


For example, a child

may be 4 years of age, but understanding and/or using language typical of a child who may

be only 2.5 years of age.


A child may have a receptive language (understanding of language)

delay or an expressive language (use of language) delay.

characteristics of a Language Delay

  • Late to talk and first words do not appear by the age of 15-18 months.


  • The child does not go on to develop new words quickly.


  • By two years of age, the child is saying less than 50 words.


  • The child is not using more than two word combinations.


  • The child has difficulty understanding.


  • The child has has difficulties following instructions.


  • The child’s language sounds immature for their age.


  • Difficulties attending at group time at kindergarten or school.


  • Difficulty answering questions.


  • Difficulty sequencing words together in sentences.


  • Difficulty getting their message across.


  • Uses incorrect grammar (e.g. ‘me want that red one’ instead of ‘I want the red one’).

Receptive language

What is receptive (understanding) language?


Receptive language - the understanding of language -

is the ability to understand words and language.


It involves gaining information and meaning from:


1. Routine (e.g. i have finished getting dressed

so now it is time to eat breakfast);

2.  Visual Information (e.g. a red light means stop);

3. Sounds (e.g. a siren means an ambulance is driving nearby);

4. Words (e.g. the word basketball means something round that we  bounce);

5. Concepts (e.g. shapes, colors, time, plural, tense, etc);

6. Written information (e.g. signs such as Do Not Cross) and stories).


Receptive (understanding) language includes:

  • Following instructions

  • Understanding concepts

  • Understanding grammatical elements

  • Understanding sentence structure

  • Understanding questions

  • Understanding stories and written.   

If you  have concerns about your child's receptive language skills, schedule a consultation with one of our pediatric  Speech Language Pathologists.
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expressive language

What is expressive language?


Expressive language is the use of words, sentences, gestures and writing to convey meaning and messages to others. Expressive language skills include being able to label objects in the environment, describe actions and events, put words together in sentences, use grammar correctly (e.g. “I had a drink” not “Me drinked”), retell a story, answer questions and write short story.

What  are characteristics of expressive language delays?

  • Difficulty in word-finding

  • Use 'jargon' (made up words) while communicating

  • Difficulty retelling a story

  • Difficulty with writing

  • Difficulty expressing themselves

  • Using incorrect grammar and wrong word order

  • Difficulty being understood by others

If you  have concerns about your child's expressive language skills, schedule a consultation with one of our pediatric  Speech Language Pathologists.

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