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Delayed speech in children

When does a child start to talk usually?

In general, every child has or her own pace when it comes to speech development. There are those who start talking in the first year of age and there are those who begin to talk when they reach one year and a half of age.

On average, toddlers start making speech sounds when they are around 12 months old.

It is said that when a child is between 24 and 30 months old, she/he can speak between 50 to 100 words.

What are the signs of delayed speech?

Delayed speech refers to the difficulty a child faces when she/he starts learning new words and making meaningful sentences while other children of the same age do not find it difficult to learn and say them.

Some non-stereotypical behaviors that may predict problems in the future include lack of reaction to surrounding sounds and stimuli, and a tendency not to smile a lot.

Language delay can be observed in different ways in a child:

  • Not pronouncing words in a clear way and communicating using signs primarily;
  • Understanding basic words and routines only;
  • Not repeating words she/he hears and not imitating voices of animals;
  • Inability to connect two words (e.g. “Papa dodo”)

From 30 to 35 months the main warning indicators are:

  • Inability to answer questions that require a choice: “Do you want banana or apple?” or description: ” What is this?”.
  • Difficulty to match a word with a picture or an object.


In the case of children who are three years old or more alarming signs include:

  • Inability to create simple and short sentences.
  • Mixing different sounds.
  • Inability to understand simple questions or basic concepts.
  • Tendency to communicate with gestures instead of talking.

What can we do to avoid delayed speech?

In most cases, we can avoid language delay in the early years through proper childcare.

If the child has any of the above signs, do not hesitate to consult a speech therapist; it is never too early to seek help of a professional. 

Do you have concerns about the development of your child’s speech abilities?
Seek the advice of a speech therapist. It has been proven that early intervention is useful.

Useful articles or references:

10 Ways to promote the language and communication skills of infants and toddlers. (n.d.). Retrieved from:

Activities to encourage speech and language development. Retrieved from:

Baby talk milestones. (2016). Retrieved from:

Le développement du langage chez l’enfant de 1 an à 3 ans. (2013). Retrieved from:

Le Langage de 0 à 6 ans : Compétences langagières, signes d’alertes, axes de travail. Retrieved from:

Le Langage de 0 à 6 ans : Compétences langagières, signes d’alertes, axes de travail.

Your baby’s first words. (2016, May 31). WebMD Medical. Reviewed from:

Emily Hoppin

A native from the state of Colorado, USA, Emily first came to Lebanon in 2016 to volunteer teach at a summer English camp for refugees hosted by one of LSESD’s partner churches in Zahle. Upon arriving in Lebanon, she immediately fell in love with the country and knew that she was destined to come back for the long term. After completing her master’s degree in Linguistics at the Free University of Berlin, Emily was finally able to realize her dream of moving to Lebanon. In August 2019, Emily Hoppin joined the LSESD team as its Communications Officer. “Working at LSESD is like putting that missing piece into a puzzle. For the first time in my life, everything fits,” she states. With a knack for languages, writing, and connecting with people, Emily feels as though all of her skills, talents, and passions have finally come together in one place through her work at LSESD. Just as her first name means “industrious”, Emily believes in hard work and perseverance. Allowing Colossians 3:23 to guide her work ethic, Emily seeks to serve the Lord in her role at LSESD with all of her heart, mind, soul, and strength.

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