Red Flags

Know the signs! Act early!

The first months and years of life are crucial to a child’s speech and language development. Physicians and other health professionals must be watchful for the red flags that indicate communication issues. If caught early enough, our services can make a huge difference in the child’s life.

If you have concerns regarding a child’s speech and language development; for instance, the child does not meet communication milestones or shows a high-risk indicator/a red flag, call the CHEO Access Team – (613) 737-2757.

If a child presents with one or more of these red flags at any age, REFER IMMEDIATELY:

  • Lack or limited eye gaze with others
  • Lack of shared interest and enjoyment in others
  • Lack of response to sounds and/or name
  • Lack of showing or pointing gestures
  • Limited number of communicative gestures
  • Has been stuttering for more than 6 months
  • Has repeated ear infections
  • Limited play skills and/or pretend play
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Is difficult to understand
  • Acts frustrated when trying to communicate
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing food
  • Voice problems (rough or raspy voice; too much air coming out of nose)
  • Repetitive use of objects or body movements
  • ANY loss of LANGUAGE and/or SOCIAL SKILLS at ANY age.

A SINGLE red flag or “NO” response on the First Words communication milestones tool should trigger a referral to First Words or other community agencies as these milestones are set AFTER the time of normal milestone acquisition. Absence of any item is considered a high-risk indicator indicating further assessment is required.  These norms are designed to directly address the “wait and see approach.”

For a more detailed guide to developmental red flags for early child educators, check out Red Flags – A Quick Reference Guide for Early Years Professionals in Ottawa.