Understanding language delay

Speech and language delay can cause issues in communication, oral function and socialisation. The cause of language delay can be a result of hearing loss, physical impairments, brain injury or intellectual impairment. However, sometimes the cause is unknown.

A person's communication is considered delayed when they are noticeably behind in the acquisition of speech and language skills as a child, compared to that of his or her peers. 

  • One in every 14 children in Australia is affected by a language disorder or delayed language skills 
  • There are four stages of communication in a child’s development: inner language, receptive language, interactive language, and expressive language
  • There is no single cause to language delay, but it does tend to run in families
  • Language delay isn’t caused by a medical problem or lack of exposure to language
  • Learning more than one language does not cause language delay

Difficulties are often picked up during childhood, although a teenager or adult can be diagnosed with language delay. Symptoms can include:

  • struggle to find the words to express ideas
  • have trouble organising sentences, having conversations or telling a story
  • find it hard to understand words, follow instructions or answer questions
  • not remember what someone has said
  • have difficulty paying attention
  • have difficulty reading and writing


Speech & Language Development Australia Organisation

Children's Health

Contact us today

Give us a call on 1800 275 753 to discuss your support needs with our Allied Health team, or send an online enquiry and we'll be in touch.

Call CPL

How can CPL help?

Children just diagnosed with language delay

Early Intervention Therapy

Language delay is generally diagnosed at around 5 years old. Our early intervention services can help support you and your family learn how to best support your child to improve long-term outcomes.


The NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) approach supports children aged 0-6 years who have a developmental delay or disability and their families/carers. CPL's Support Coordinators can help you to navigate your first NDIS plan.

Finding the right equipment and aids

When you make an appointment to see a CPL Allied Health therapist they will work with you to find the equipment that suits you best.