Speech delay by children. Part 1. Norm and problems

Last Updated on September 6, 2022

Having behind my back many years of struggle for the speech of the my second child and only too late having finally received our not very happy diagnosis of dyspraxia in my hands, I can summarize a lot about speech delay in children in Germany.

In this thread: what is normal and what is not, when to sound the alarm, what may be the reasons, what to do, where to go, how to find a good speech therapist and what techniques are familiar to me.

I do not claim absolute completeness and accuracy. But I would be happy to have all this information not now, but significantly earlier to get a piece of paper in my hands, which could be used to receiving therapy. Because as a child was 2 years old and I said, he does not control his mouth, I heard from a pediatrician “Your son is just lazy”. Then from another pediatrician two years later with joyful smile, “So he may not speak at all”. Only then he send us to proove ears (5 month of waiting!), then to special centre (1,5 year of waiting for diagnosis!). Meanwhile I paid myself for the first course of therapy and became second recipe from ENT doctor.

Part 2 Possibily deceases
Non-Speaking child. Part 3. What to do
Bilingual child speech development
Benefits for families in Germany
Asperger’s syndrome without outdated clichés. 1
Secondary school in Berlin – Brandenburg

Key point: Don’t panic if your child doesn’t speak according his age. But take this as a theoretically serious problem, requiring significant effort and time. It means to make an appointment in advance (at 3 years old!) with different specialists, regardless of what the pediatrician thinks and what he is trying to convince you of.

No bilingualism can be the reason that a child does not speak recognizable words at the age of 2.5 – 3 in at least one language! If it is your case, then it is time to make an appointments (Termine).

What, in fact, is the problem with the German doctors

Some of the recipes (Überweisungen) are easily issued by pediatricians, since nothing is required from them later. Some (mainly to a speech therapist) gives out with a great difficulty. They searh for every opportunities not to give a Überweisung to speech therapist, because they must it ground for Krankenkasse.

For you it is better not to rely on the words of a person who sees your child well if 20 minutes a year and who says that you must wait a couple of years.

Perhaps the pediatrician was right, and the child will suddenly start talking like an adult at 3.5 years old.

Or perhaps he was wrong. And while you were waiting for his beloved age of 4 years, you are hopelessly late with the diagnosis and treatment. In this case it costs for your child too much.

It is a very unpleasant feature of German pediatricians. They are not fighting for the progress of the child. God gave or God did not give. They do not think that much can be compensated or developed with therapy better (or even only) in early age. They send the children to specialists at an early age only when the case is really bad or when the parents actively request it. Otherwise they wait until preschool age.

What to do about it – read further. At the beginning we talk, what is normal und what is not.

1. What is considered a speech delay and when to sound the alarm

Official table of speech therapists.

0-10 month

Norm. The child reacts to sounds, turns his head towards the source of the sound. Shouts, hums, repeats syllables.

Problems. The child does not look into the eyes, does not react to sounds, is silent (especially after 6 months), cannot form sounds.

10-18 month

Norm. The child uses facial expressions and gestures, copies sounds and syllables. Reacts to his name. Understands simple requirements, can name objects (about 10 words) and show.

Problems. The child is limited to a few syllables or sounds. The child repeats the same thing all the time. Doesn’t understand the requirements. He tries to communicate only with facial expressions and gestures.

from 18 to 24 month

Norm. The child understands simple sentences. It recognizes sounds (the plane flew, etc.). Names familiar objects (30-50 words). Moves from one-word sentences to two-word sentences.

Problems. Uses little understadable sound connections. Uses less than 10 words of value. Speech becomes worse, does not develop, or the child stops speaking.

from 2 to 3 years old

Norm. The child understands long sentences and requirements (for example, shows body parts). Speaks his name and uses over 50 words. Builds sentences of 2-3 words. Can pronounce sounds m, b, p, d, f, l, n, t, w.


Problems. The child speaks ununderstandable. Speaks only a few words. Does not lengthen sentences (cannot move from 2-word sentences further). You have a feeling that the child does not understand you.

from 3 to 4 years old

Norm. The child listens when he is being read. He understands small stories. Answers simple questions. Builds sentences from several words and asks questions. Uses the pronoun “I”.

Problems. Outsiders do not understand the child. A child cannot form a plural. It does not form simple sentences. The child uses few verbs, does not use adjectives or auxiliary words.

from 4 to 5 years old

Norm. The child participates in the conversation as an adult. Can describe situations, talk about things that he does not see. Can correlate objects with their generalized concept (dishes – plates, cups …). All sounds and sound combinations are correct.

Problems. It is difficult for a child to build sentences. He makes a lot of grammatical mistakes. The child speaks ununderstandable. He cannot pronounce certain sounds or replaces one sound with another. The child repeats or draws sounds or syllables.

Next – what possible diseases can be hidden under these problems
Part 3. What to do

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