When Does a Speech Delay Signal Autism? (How to Tell)

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As a parent with three children on the spectrum, I want to know what delays are signs of autism.

Signs that your child may be autistic are when they have a speech delay. A speech delay is when the child’s language skills do not develop as expected for their age. Read more in detail here: signs your autistic child will talk.


Your youngster doesn’t seem to talk as much or as fluently as other kids. Alternatively, your youngster may not talk at all. Does this rule out the possibility that your kid has autism?

Autism and speech impairments are often linked. Delays in speech development are really utilized to diagnose autism. However, speech difficulties may be caused by a variety of diseases that are unrelated to autism.

If you’re worried about your child’s speech, speak to his or her physician and request a thorough evaluation. Early detection of any form of speech delay helps guarantee that your kid receives the essential and important assistance from professionals.

What Is the Frequency of Speech Delays?

The majority of youngsters learn to speak in the same way that they learn to walk: one modest step at a time. They start by babbling and gradually improve their language skills by acquiring one meaningful word at a time. They build up a large lexicon of words that they can link together over time.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) estimates that roughly 75 percent of children with autism have some kind of delayed speech. They converse one to two years later than typical youngsters, according to ASHA.

While autism is associated with certain speech delays, it is not the cause of all of them. According to experts, children may acquire these disorders as a result of:

  • Hearing loss is a common problem. Children who are unable to hear their parents model language are unable to gain the necessary abilities.
  • Deprivation. Because the youngster does not spend enough time conversing with adults, the language is not learned.
  • Choice. Even if there is no medical explanation for it, children with selective mutism do not talk.
  • Disease. Children with mobility abnormalities or intellectual challenges may find it difficult to communicate.
  • Homes that are bilingual. Children who grow up in households like these must learn two languages at once, and it may take them longer to catch up on the subtleties of each.

Parents get concerned when their children do not talk by the age of two, according to ASHA. Some parents may have worries about their children even before they are born.

How Does a Speech Delay Appear?

Children are unique individuals who grow at their own pace. Some people just speak out early than others, while others remain silent. You may be concerned if your youngster can’t keep up with a talkative neighbor, but your concerns are generally unfounded. Speech delays are not the same.

There are two forms of speech delays, according to experts:

  • Developmental: This youngster is following a conventional speech development pattern, although he or she is progressing at a slower pace than classmates.
  • Apraxia is a motor condition in which a child’s ability to create meaningful sounds is hampered. They comprehend speech and often have a lot to say, but they can’t seem to get the words out.

Autism may cause one or both types of speech difficulties in children. Frequently, the disparities are significant. Youngsters with autism might seem amazingly silent and non-communicative when put in a room with children who are growing on track. Their problems are difficult to overlook.

Speech Delay vs. Autism Diagnostic Tests

A youngster who isn’t acquiring crucial speech skills need assistance, and the sooner this assistance begins, the better. Parents may see the indicators at home, but they are unable to identify the problem without the assistance of a professional. An appointment is necessary if a child’s speech patterns are not growing at the same rate as their classmates.

According to researchers, clinicians have a variety of methods at their disposal to identify whether speech difficulties are caused by autism or something else. They may evaluate a child’s:

  • Social abilities. Is the youngster making eye contact with you? Does the youngster reply when you call his or her name? Is the youngster responsive to emotional signals such as smiles?
  • Physical reactions Is the youngster pointing to the things he or she wants? When the doctor points to something, does the youngster look at it? Is the youngster using items in his or her play?
  • Word comprehension is important. Is it possible for a toddler to identify an item only by pointing at it, even if the youngster is unable to speak?

In these exams, children with autism tend to respond differently than their classmates. Many of these youngsters are incapable of completing the duties indicated in the questions.

A youngster with hearing loss, for example, may have a very different reaction. That youngster may stare at the doctor earnestly, pointing to a required item and smile when it is given over.

We know that children with autism have brains that are different from their classmates based on considerable study. Brain scans of children with autism, for example, reveal reduced activity in two language regions. A different sort of brain scan is used for those who have a distinct language delay.

Brain scans, blood testing, and genetic scans aren’t generally accessible to assist physicians figure out if their patients’ problems are caused by autism or something else. To develop a diagnosis, they depend on observations and accounts from parents.

Expect visits from your child’s doctor on a regular basis, as well as visits from a few experts. You’ll know if the team detects autism or another kind of language impairment at the conclusion of this lengthy assessment.

Speech Therapy Is Very Important

Some types of speech delay are simple to correct. Give a youngster with extreme hearing loss a pair of hearing aids, for example, and that child will swiftly catch up with their classmates. Children with autism, on the other hand, often need a little more assistance in order to learn the abilities they require.

Autism sufferers may learn to communicate. Children who did not speak by the age of four or even five may grow up to be literate and eloquent adults, according to Autism Speaks. However, they will need assistance to get there.

Children with autism benefit from speech therapy sessions because they can:

  • The mechanics of speaking are something you should be aware of. Therapists may assist youngsters in learning how to talk by moving their lips, teeth, and tongue. Experts may give workouts to youngsters to help them gain muscular mass.
  • Learn important terms. To assist youngsters link a sound with an item, therapists utilize flashcards, books, and other tools. They engage with their customers via repetition, tenacity, and patience.
  • Combine words in a sentence. When a youngster has a large number of words, treatment moves to utilizing them in order. The procedure begins with two-word sentences. Longer sentences take the stage as the youngster gets older.
  • Pay attention to what others are saying. Therapists may also assist children with autism in learning about the exchange of information in a discussion.

This therapy is effective, according to experts, and the right treatment may make the difference between a youngster who can talk and one who cannot. Without assistance, children may not be able to learn these abilities. They can flourish if they have access to the correct resources.


The “speech delay symptoms” are a sign that someone is on the autism spectrum. If you notice your child has speech delay, it’s important to seek professional help.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if its autism or speech delay?

A: Speech delay is an issue that may arise from autism. This can happen when the child does not speak his or her first language and has a hard time switching to their native language, which leads to slurring of words in speech therapy sessions. Autism comes with many unique difficulties for children in school environments because they often have difficulty understanding social cues, reading body language and interacting appropriately with other students.

How do you know if your child has speech delay?

A: The first step is to make sure they are on track with their milestones. If your child is not talking or babbling, if they dont coo and babble like a bird after birth, if you have concerns about your babys development (such as delayed motor skills) then these may be signs of speech delay. Talk to the pediatrician when youre doing routine check-ups for more information!

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