Children are all unique, some start talking at an early age and comprehend everything said to them. While others may not talk quite so much or have a difficult time listening. If a child has a language or speech problem prior to starting school, early intervention is very important. 

It can be difficult to tell if your preschooler has a speaking or language disorder 

Receptive Language is where a child has difficulty understanding. According to American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) they may have problems with:

Understanding what people mean when they use gestures, like shrugging or nodding

Following directions

Answering questions

Pointing to objects and pictures

Knowing how to take turns when talking with others

Expressive language is when children have trouble talking. They may have trouble with:

Asking questions

Naming objects

Using gestures

Putting words together into sentences

Learning songs and rhymes

Using correct pronouns, like “he” or “they”

Knowing how to start a conversation and keep it going

Changing how they talk to different people and in different places. For example, you speak differently to an adult than a young child. You can talk louder outside than inside.

Talking and understanding are also a problem for some child. As well as, early reading and writing: 

Holding a book right side up

Looking at pictures in a book and turning pages

Telling a story with a beginning, middle, and end

Naming letters and numbers

Learning the alphabet

There are several reasons why your preschooler can have a language disorder. ASHA list of some possible reasons:

Other people in your family having language problems

Being born early

Low birth weight

Hearing loss


Down syndrome or Fragile X syndrome

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder


Brain injury

Cerebral palsy

Poor nutrition

Failure to thrive

Don’t worry, there’s help. The therapists at First Words have extensive clinical experience and training. Our effective holistic approach takes place in your child’s natural environment, providing the highest quality of care. 

We encourage parents, caregivers, and siblings to help improve your child’s understanding and talking with some activities:

Talk a lot to your child. This will help your child learn new words.

Read to your child every day. Point out words you see.

Point to signs in the grocery store, at school, and outside.

Speak to your child in the language you know best.

Listen and answer when your child talks.

Get your child to ask you questions.

Give your child time to answer questions.

Set time limits for watching TV and using computers. Use the time for talking and reading together.