Did I cause my child’s difficulty?

No!  Difficulties with speech, language and communication have a variety of causes.  These include:

  • sensory difficulties (e.g., hearing loss or visual impairment)
  • genetic factors (more boys than girls have communication problems, also many people with a specific difficulty with communication have another family member who also experienced difficulties in the same area)
  • medical diagnoses (e.g., Autism, Learning Difficulties, Cleft Palate are all associated with communication difficulties)
  • no known cause.

Is not talking clearly or at all because a child is being lazy?

No.  Difficulties with communication cause frustration for children and young people and this is increased when it is mistakenly believed that they need to ‘try harder’.  Communication difficulties can appear to be hidden, particularly when a child or young person has average or above average intelligence.

Will he / she just grow out of it?

Some communication difficulties (e.g., stammering, mild speech delay) may resolve over time.  However others will not and early intervention is important so that difficulties do not worsen or become ingrained.  It is advisable to seek professional advice rather than adopting a ‘wait and see’ perspective.  In some situations this can be as simple as making a phone call for initial advice.

Using an alternative form of communication to speaking has been recommended for my child (e.g., signing, using the exchange of pictures).  Will this mean my child is prevented from developing the ability to speak?

No!  Being unable to communicate with spoken words and having no other alternative to express thoughts and feelings is a situation that becomes increasingly frustrating for a child or young person as they develop.  Introducing a non-speech based / visual method for a child or young person to express themselves will in most cases support and enhance communication and language development.  It is rare for someone to avoid expressing themselves using speech when they are able to.

Does my child have language difficulties because they hear two (or more) different languages?

There is no evidence to suggest that learning more than one language causes speech or language difficulties.  Bilingual children can have speech and language difficulties, but these are not caused by bilingualism.  Click here for more information about speaking more than one language at home.

How much time should my baby or toddler be spending looking at screens?

There are no exact guidelines about how much time babies and toddlers should spend on screens. You can use screen time to encourage communication by:

  • Watching along with them and talking about what you’re watching
  • Asking your child to tell you what happened in the video
  • Encouraging your child to be active while they watch (for example, dancing or singing along)

For more information see the National Childbirth Trust’s website.