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Home > Events & Health Information > Diseases & Conditions > Learning & Behavioural Problems > Speech and Language Difficulties

Speech and Language Difficulties

About The Condition   Signs And Symptoms
Diagnosis And Treatment Options   Tips


What Are Speech And Language Difficulties

Language is a beautiful gift. With it we can share our wants, our needs, thoughts, feelings. When you spend time with your child, you have the power to give and nurture this gift of communication.


Many factors affect the rate at which children develop language. Although the stages of development in the acquisition of speech and language are very consistent, the exact age when they achieve these milestones vary.


Factors such as the child’s inborn ability to learn language or motor skills, the amount and kind of language the child hears and how people respond to communication attempts can either slow down or accelerate the speed of speech and language acquisition. If a child is slow in speech and language acquisition, he or she may be suffering from speech or language difficulty.


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Signs And Symptoms Of Speech And Language Difficulties

These are some signs and symptoms that a child has speech and language difficulties:

  • Says less than 3 single words (e.g. papa, mama) by 18 months
  • Does not say 2-word sentences (e.g. play ball, want drink) by 2 to 3 years old
  • Unable to understand instructions by 2 to 3 years old
  • Loss of previously acquired language skills at any age


Source: Singapore Health Booklet


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Diagnosis And Treatment Options For Speech And Language Difficulties

If you sense that your child’s language development is slow, you may wish to consult your paediatrician.


Alternatively, you can seek the advice of a speech therapist. The speech therapist can administer tests of receptive and expressive language, analyse a child’s utterances in various situations, determine factors that may be slowing down language development and counsel parents on the next step to take. This can include suggestions on stimulating language development at home or being enrolled in an early intervention programme.


Your child’s progress can then be closely monitored.


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Tips For Taking Care Of Children With Speech And Language Difficulties

Speech and language delays in children can be prevented by stimulating your child’s language at his or her specific stage of language acquisition.


Talk and read to your child often. By reading books to your child as early as six weeks you can also put him or her on the road to better speech and language development.


Children learn through hearing adults talk, interaction and play. Cutting down the time spent on television or mobile devices will allow more opportunities for play and interaction.


The following websites have useful information on normal language milestones and ways to promote language development in children:


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Our Team

We have a team of paediatricians specialising in developmental and behavioural paediatrics, psychologists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, learning support educators, nurses and social workers committed to providing holistic care for children with developmental, learning and behavioural difficulties.


Click here to find out more about our Division of Developmental and Behavioural Paediatrics.


The information provided on this page is meant purely for educational purposes and may not be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified healthcare provider before starting any treatment or if you have any questions related to your child’s health, physical fitness or medical conditions.