Language skills include the number of words your child can understand and use, and their ability to put these words together into sentences.

When to seek help

Children develop language at very different rates. Some children are later to start using words or sentences than other children of the same age. We know that the majority of these children will catch up with their friends by the time they get to school, this is known as a language delay. A small proportion will continue to have difficulties learning language and will benefit from support for this through their school years, we would describe these children as having a language disorder  or developmental language disorder. As a guide you should seek help for your child if he/she is not:

  • Using at least 15 words by 18 months of age
  • Using least 50 words by 2 years of age 
  • Joining words into short phrases (e.g. "more milk", "mummy gone") by 2 years of age
  • Understanding simple instructions like "go get your coat", by 2 years of age
  • Understanding instructions such as "where's mummy's nose?", "make teddy jump" by 3 years of age
  • Using 4-5 word sentences (e.g. "Me want big ball") by 3 years of age
  • Using longer sentences and linking sentences together (e.g. I painted a picture and then gave it to mummy) by 4 years
  • Understanding and using position, colour, time and number words (e.g. under, blue, tomorrow, three) by 4 years of age
  • Understanding and using a range of question words (what, where, who, why) by 4 years of age

More details on language development and tips to help can be found in the communication trusts small talk leaflet which can be downloaded here and there is a progress checker available here


  • A full assessment of language skills to identify strengths, needs and the most appropriate targets for therapy. 
  • The type of therapy I offer is dependent on your child's needs  and what works best for your family. Types of therapy include:

    • Structured play sessions and video analysis to equip parents with skills and strategies to support children's language skills through play.  We work together, using your skills and knowledge of your child, building in, or increasing, techniques that we know help language development

    • Direct language therapy. This involves building specific language targets ( e.g. to use action words in two word phrases) into games and activities  which I demonstrate and then the parent carries out as homework throughout the week.          

  • Initially  I would suggest booking a block of 6  sessions. In the first session we will jointly agree targets to work towards during these sessions. 
  • Home practice is vital for progress and each week you will get a personalised homework sheet to fill in - I use the child's interest to provide added motivation and it gives you a record of what you need to do. 
  •  I liaise with your child's preschool, with your consent, and provide them a pack with targets and activities to support progress towards the targets.
  • Following the initial block of therapy there will usually be a short break for the child to consolidate the gains they have made followed by a review session at which we assess progress and decide upon next steps.
  • Once an initial block has been completed it may be appropriate to offer further direct therapy blocks or to offer less frequent sessions with targets identified to be practiced at home and nursery. 
  • I see children with both language delay and language disorders. Where social communication skills including eye-contact, awareness of others and repetitive behaviours are the key concern or where the language difficulties are part of wider difficulties such as global developmental delay other independent therapists would be more appropriate

What you can do to help

My  top tips are: 

  • Give your child plenty of time to talk - It sounds easy but most of us adults aren't to fond of silence 
  • Use sentences which are just slightly longer than your child's when talking with them - If they are not using words then use single words ("car"). If they are using single words use short phrases ("big cat") etc. This will make it easier for your child to understand and copy you. 
  • Create opportunities for your child to use language:
    • Offer choices e.g. banana or yogurt
    • Give your child one go at something e.g. bubbles then stop and wait for them to indicate they want more
    • Leave gaps in familiar stories or songs and wait for them to fill them in
    • Do something silly and wait for them to tell you how to do it right
  • Use more comments (e.g. "look a bus") than questions (e.g. "what's that?"). 
  • Repeat and extend your child's sentences e.g. if they say "juice" and hand you their empty beaker you would say "more juice"
  • Do not blame yourself that your child is late to talk - even if you had talked more, talked less, read more, spent more time with them, worked less, put them in nursery, taken them out of nursery etc, etc, etc they would still have had delayed language. It is not your fault! but there are lot of things you can do to help. 

More detailed suggestions can be found at: