Does my child need extra help?

Every child develops differently. 

Your child might be faster or slower than other kids of the same age. 

Read about what you can expect from your child at different ages

20% of 4 year olds have difficulty using language. Some will get better at communicating without help. Others will need specific support to get on track.

If you think your child may need extra help, don’t wait and see.

Talk to your local child health nurse, family doctor, educator or teacher. They can put you in touch with the right professional.

You can also contact speech pathologists directly.

You and your child can access speech pathologists for free at your local school or Child and Family Learning Centre.

You can also pay to see speech pathologists privately.

What to look out for

There is a lot going on when we communicate in person. It involves speaking, listening, understanding, using our social skills and using our voice.

Some kids might struggle with all, or just one of these skills:


  • Can your child say the sounds in words so people can understand them?
  • Can your child ask questions?
  • By age 5 most children can say most sounds for talking and most people can understand them.


  • Can your child understand and follow instructions?
  • Can your child retell a story about something that happened to them?
  • By the age of 2, most children can follow simple two-part instructions – “Please give me the teddy and the ball”.

Social communication

When we talk to other people, we are also sharing lots of other information. These include:

  • Making gestures
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Taking turns to talk and listen in a two-way conversation
  • Knowing what is appropriate to talk about in different situations

Can your child:

  • Have a short conversation about something that interests them?
  • Listen to others and respond appropriately in an interaction or conversation?
  • Can your child answer questions in an interested and confident manner?

By the age of 3 to 4 years, most children can usually ask lots of questions and engage in normal social communication.


Stuttering usually starts in early childhood around age 3. It’s important to seek advice early because we don’t know which children will need help to stop stuttering.

  • Does your child speak confidently, without stuttering?