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Speech and language delays in young children

The sound of your child’s first word is magical - but how do you know if they are hitting their developmental milestones on time?

We know every parent wants to set their child up to thrive in life and knowing when and where to ask for help is important for a family. Understanding key milestones, and what to do if you suspect your child may need support, is an important part of this process.

For many children, talking may not come easily. Early indicators of a potential speech or language delay may include a child not using many words or having difficulty putting their words together. A child may not understand what they hear, or they may also have trouble pronouncing words or getting their words out.

If you suspect your child has a speech or language delay, what can you do next?

Reaching out to your family doctor or your child’s pediatrician is always a good option if you have questions about your child meeting any of their milestones. Your doctor can answer questions about your child’s development and may be able to refer you to specialists, into assessment programs managed through Alberta Health Services, or to programs such as Pacekids Programs that support children in reaching their developmental milestones.

During an assessment, a Registered Speech-Language Pathologist spends time directly with the child and identifies potential delays. They will share their observations with your family, make a diagnosis if needed, and help you navigate the next steps to support your child. Speech-language delays can also be an early indicator of other diagnoses like autism spectrum disorder, hearing impairments, or complex medical conditions. In these cases, the Speech-Language Pathologist can support your access to the right specialist, to help you move toward further assessment services or a formal diagnosis.

With a speech-language assessment and report, you now have access to resources and programs designed to support your child’s needs. For children in Alberta, an assessment can open doors to a variety of supports including Program Unit Funded (PUF) early intervention and supported pre-school and kindergarten programming. Research indicates that early intervention and educational programs made possible through formal assessments are essential for supporting children with diverse needs through these critical years.

Pacekids Programs is a Calgary-based service provider that offers a variety of programs for children with diverse needs and their families. Learn more at


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