We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Language Delay?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A language delay is an unusually slow development of language skills in a child, when compared to peers. It is important to be aware of the considerable variance when it comes to language development, with some children developing skills very early, while others take longer. A broad time frame is used when discussing the development of language with the goal of catching delays without accidentally pathologizing children who are simply developing a little slower without any underlying problem.

In a language delay, a child is following the right sequence in terms of first babbling, then starting to articulate words and string them together, understanding commands, and eventually being able to tell short stories, but this happens more slowly than with other children. One of the most common causes of language delay is a hearing impairment, where the child has trouble developing language skills because of an auditory processing disorder or a mechanical problem with the ears. Other causes can include being a bilingual speaker, where the child's combined language skills are actually appropriate to the age but skills in each language are developing slowly, or a developmental disability.

When a language delay appears on its own, parents are sometimes hesitant to seek medical treatment because they believe the child will eventually catch up. It is important to have children who appear to be experiencing language delays evaluated, as they may have an underlying issue that requires attention. Some developmental and cognitive disabilities show up first as a language delay, for example, while people with hearing impairments who are diagnosed early and provided with treatment can catch up to their peers more easily.

Children with a language delay are usually seen by a speech-language pathologist, a care provider who specializes in issues involving speech and language. This person will conduct testing with the child to learn more about the child's level of language skill and to check for signs of underlying issues. Interviews will also be conducted with parents or guardians to look for issues in the home environment that may be contributing, such as a child who doesn't get a chance to speak because of talkative siblings.

Numerous treatments are available for language delay. Sometimes a wait and see approach is advised, with appropriate interventions like reading to children and interacting with them to get them familiar with speech. Therapy can also be provided to help a child develop language skills. Treatment of an underlying issue can sometimes address the language acquisition problem and help the child catch up to peers in the same age group.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.