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Warning Signs Your Child Might Have a Communication Disorder

Written by Sophie Lung, M.D. on Aug 27, 2018 8:02:00 AM

You learn things about your baby as you grow together. From “Is that a hungry cry or a mad cry?” to “She rubs her nose when she’s sleepy,” your baby can communicate basic needs and wants to you. But every baby is different, which means that recognizing milestones, such as when baby should start crawling, walking, and especially talking, can be tough to measure. I find that parents fret over trying to figure out when their babies should be talking. It’s different for every child, but there are signs to look for if you’re concerned your baby might have a communication disorder. 

Things to Look For

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Here is a very general guide of things to take note of if you believe your child may have a language or communication disorder: 

  • From birth on, your child doesn’t seem to smile or interact with other people.
  • Between 4 and 7 months old, your child doesn’t babble.
  • Between 7 and 12 months old, your child is only making a few sounds or gestures, such as pointing.
  • Between 7 months and 2 years old, they don’t seem to understand what other people are saying.
  • Between 1 year and 18 months, they can only say a few words.
  • Between 18 months and 2 years, it does not seem that your child easily. understands words and your child doesn’t put words together to make sentences.
  • Between 2 and 3 years, you child seems to have trouble playing with other children because other children either do not understand what your child is trying to say or your child doesn’t speak at all.
  • Between 2 and 3 years, the child is exhibiting difficulty with early reading and writing skills, such as liking to hear you talk and read, looking at pictures while you read, making sounds or words when looking at pictures in books, touching or pointing to pictures in books, turning pages, or knowing that books have a front and a back. By age 3, many children can recognize pictures in familiar books. 

Keep in mind that just because your child fits into one or two of these categories does not necessarily mean anything is wrong. But if she or he does show some of these signs and doesn’t seem to be progressing, make sure to talk to your pediatrician as soon as you can. Oftentimes, programs to help kids with language disorders can be difficult to find, or parents are wait-listed until space becomes available, but early intervention is the best way to meet the issue head-on. 

What to Do

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Your pediatrician can rule out other potential causes (such as difficulty hearing) first, and then, if necessary, refer you to a specialist who will test your child. These tests are age-appropriate and generally stress free for your little one. For example, a clinician might see how your child plays and interacts with toys, the clinician, or other children. From there, a determination will be made as to what type of communication issue your child might have and you’ll be referred to programs, specialists, and other groups (even parent support groups) that can help.


Dr. Lung is a board-certified pediatrician who cares for her patients at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – The Woodlands. She enjoys caring for children and giving them the tools they need to grow into healthy, young individuals and successful adults.



Topics: communication disorder

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