Speech Milestones: Common Problems

Blog Post created by teachontarioteam on Jul 23, 2015

stuttering_637x424.jpgIf your child isn't meeting the speech milestones for his age, then there might be an underlying issue or it could just be a simple problem cured by time and patience. If you are worried, contact your province's preschool speech and language program for help.

Here are some common speech problems that many parents encounter:

My child isn't talking. What's wrong?

There are serious communication disorders like autism that can cause a delay in speech, but sometimes kids don't talk for less complicated reasons.

They may not understand you. "Some children really do have a hard time breaking down the meaning of things that they hear being said to them," says Margit Pukonen, Director of the speech program at the Speech and Stuttering Institute. There are some ways to help:

  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Use very simple words.
  • Speak in short, slow sentences

If they are still having problems, speak to your doctor about speech therapy.

They may not even be aware that they are not communicating. If that's the case, there could be other developmental issues going on. But, if they are gesturing or using other ways to communicate then they are aware but don't know how to fix it. Once again, talk to your doctor about speech therapy.

My child can't pronounce 'sh,' 'th' or 'r' sounds. What's wrong?

These sounds are often the last to develop. Some kids have the ability to pronounce those sounds early on but others don't grasp these sounds until they are seven or eight. Do not panic.

If you are concerned, get a speech therapist to do an assessment. Most of the time, this issue clears up with time but sometimes a little therapy can help.

Most people do not understand my child. What's wrong?

This becomes a concern after the age of four. By that age, most strangers should understand them. If not, there could be other underlying developmental disorders. It is important to go to your doctor and ask for your child to get tested.

My child stutters. What's wrong?

The good news is that 80% of children will outgrow stuttering. Click here to learn more about stuttering and treatment.


Speech problems can be frustrating for parents and children. If you are concerned, talk to the professionals and learn how to help.