Speech Delay / Disorder

Speech Delay / Disorder

Speech is the verbal means by which most of us communicate and how speech sounds are made and combined to produce words (articulation). A child may have no difficulties with their language development; that is the ability to understand what is said and put words together, but poor speech development may have a significant impact on their ability to express themselves.


As with language children may present with either delayed or disordered speech development and this may present in isolation or alongside other contributing factors or diagnoses.

  • Speech delay: a pattern of development typical in a younger child.

  • Speech disorder: an atypical pattern of development which is not following the usual pattern or sequence expected.

To be able to develop appropriate speech children first needs to be able to attend and listening to stimuli in their environment, develop play and interaction skills, and understand and use spoken language. For this reason, speech should not be targeted unless all other areas of communication development are age appropriate. See the communication pyramid below illustrating the skills which emerge and develop first to enable others to be built upon them.