Print this topic

HealthInfo Canterbury

Diagnosing a speech & language delay or disorder

FDP family readingChildren generally develop speech and language skills and reach speech and language milestones in a predictable way. This makes it relatively easy to figure out if your child may be having some difficulty.

You can read about those milestones, the order in which children reach them, and at about what age, on KidsHealth.

Children with a speech and language delay usually catch up with the right help and support from a speech-language therapist, at home and in preschool or childcare. Children with a speech and language disorder usually need more speech-language therapy, and may need other specialist support at school.

It's important that every child diagnosed with speech and language delay or disorder gets the right help at the right time, and as early as possible.

If you have any concerns about your child's speech and language development, speak with your GP, Well Child provider or speech-language therapist.

Tests and diagnosis

Only a qualified speech-language therapist or a paediatrician can diagnose a speech and language delay or disorder. There is no simple test your doctor can use. But before referring your child to a speech-language therapist your doctor may want to rule out other causes of your child's symptoms by:

On the next page: Caring for a child with speech and language delay or disorder

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2020.

Image courtesy of Ambro at

Page reference: 125666

Review key: HISCD-79694