Have you ever wondered if your child is on target with their speech and language development? We have come up with an easy to read checklist to track his or her developmental progress:
Birth to 3 months
- Smiles at the sound of your voice
- Makes cooing, gurgling sounds
- Turns head toward direction of sound
- Communicates hunger, fear, discomfort (through crying or facial expression)
3 months to 6 months
- Begins to respond to the word “no”
- Responsive to changes in your tone of voice and to sounds other than speech
- Babbles in a speech-like way and uses many different sounds, including sounds that begin with p, b, and m
6 months to 12 months
- Responds to own name
- Begins to respond to “no”
- Turns and looks in the direction of sounds
- Responds to sound by making sounds
- Uses voice to express joy and displeasure
- Knows familiar faces
- Understands words for common items such as “cup,” “shoe,” or “juice”
- Responds to requests (“Come here” or “Want more?”)
- Communicates using gestures such as waving or holding up arms
12 months to 18 months
- Tries to “talk” with you through babbling
- Tries to imitate words
- Says “dada” and “mama”
- Uses exclamations, such as “oh-oh!”
- Recognizes family members’ names
- Follows simple commands (“roll the ball”)
- Responds to “no”
- Uses simple gestures, such as shaking head for “no”
18 months to 24 months
- Knows a few parts of the body and can point to them when asked
- Understands simple questions (“Where’s your shoe?”)
- Enjoys simple stories, songs, and rhymes
- Points to pictures, when named, in books
- Acquires new words on a regular basis
- Uses some one- or two-word questions (“Where kitty?” or “Go bye-bye?”)
- Puts two words together (“More cookie” or “No juice”)
- Asks specifically for his/her mother or father
- Uses “hi,” “bye,” and “please,” with reminders
- Requests items or actions by pointing or by using one word
- Directs another’s attention to an object or action
- Laughs at silly actions (ex. wearing a bowl as a hat)
24 months to 36 months
- Points to 5-6 parts of a doll when asked
- Uses 2-3 word sentences to verbalize desires and feelings
- Asks for information about an object (ex. “shoe?” while pointing to shoe box)
- Hum or tries to sing
- Listens to short rhymes
- Likes to imitate parents
- Takes turns in play with other children
- Treats a doll or stuffed animal as though it were alive
- Refers to self by name and use “me” and “mine”
- Knows some spatial concepts such as “in”, “on”
- Knows descriptive words such as “big”, “happy”
- Begins to use plurals such as “shoes” or “socks” and regular past tense verbs such as “jumped”
- Follows two step directions
36 months to 48 months
- Groups objects such as foods, clothes, etc.
- Identifies colors
- Able to describe the use of objects such as “fork,” “car,” etc.
- Uses verbs that end in “ing,” such as “walking” and “talking”
- Answers simple questions such as “What do you do when you are hungry?”
- Match objects that have same function (as in putting a cup and plate together)
- Speaks in sentences of five to six words
- Understands the concepts of “same” and “different”
- Tells stories
- Follows three-part commands (ex. “Put the toys away, wash your hands, and come eat.”)
- Recalls parts of a story
48 months to 60 months
- Understands the concepts of “big,” “little,” “tall,” “short”
- Able to identify situations that would lead to happiness, sadness, or anger
- Uses “a,” “an,” and “the” when speaking
- Asks direct questions (“May I?” “Would you?”)
- Wants explanations of “why” and “how”
- Relates a simple experience she has had recently
- Often prefer playing with other children to playing alone, unless deeply involved in a solitary task
- Speaks sentences of more than five words
- Uses future tense
For further information contact us at 941-360-0200 or visit us at www.pediatrictherapysolution.com
- Give Your Child a Reason to Talk
Knowing your child well is a great thing, but anticipating your child’s every need gives them no reason to have to communicate. Instead of automatically giving your child a drink, snack, or even a toy that’s out of reach, wait and give him/her a chance to attempt to ask for it. Even reaching, grunting, and pointing is a great start if they are not able to produce words. Model the words for him/her. “Do you want a drink?” and even add the sign for “drink” if you’re working on using some basic sign language. Reward these attempts at early communication, by granting the request when appropriate and redirecting when it is not.
- Offer Choices/ Pretend to not Understand Request
When your child communicates that he/she wants something, the next step is to offer a choice of two items. This encourages further communication and also allows the opportunity for further modeling the vocabulary and language of requesting. You can even offer the wrong item. If you know your child wants the car, offer him/her the ball. This provides further opportunities for modeling and encouraging language. Be sure not to do this during every requesting attempt as this may cause frustration instead of communication.
- Control the Activity
Engage your child in activities that you control. A perfect example is bubbles. You hold the bubbles and the wand, but don’t blow until the child says “b”, “bubble”, “blow”, or makes some attempt to communicate. That attempt could be a sign, a grunt, or a squeal. Initially, perfect speech is not the goal, the goal is to teach children the power of speech and communication. When you do blow the bubbles, don’t forget to model the word “pop” every time you or your child pops a bubble!
Other activities can be controlled by providing a limited quantity and waiting for your child to ask for “more”. Coloring, blocks, craft activities, and interactive games are all perfect opportunities for practicing “more”.
In both examples, the important thing is that your child makes an attempt to communicate before you (the parent, caregiver, or peer) initiate the action.
- Opportunities throughout the Day
Talk about what you are doing and what your child is doing at every possible opportunity. When your child makes a sound, approximates a word, or says a word, repeat back what you heard or give meaning to what he/she said.
Everyday activities or “chores” can even be language building opportunities. Have your child help prepare something in the kitchen, or sort laundry. Turn the steps into a song or simply narrate each step. This will help your child learn action words like “open”, “put”, or “stir” and other basic concepts such as “in”, “out”, “on”, “off”, etc.
- Expand on what your child is saying
Your child might make a “b” sound while playing with bubbles or blocks. Repeat back “Blocks! Look at the blocks.” or “Bubbles! You want more bubbles? OK!” If your child is a more advanced talker, but still working on some of the grammatical rules of speech, model the correct speech back to him/her. If your child says “Me want that” when pointing to a favorite toy truck, you could repeat back “Oh, you want the red truck? What a big truck! Let’s get the truck and play together!” Repetition like this will help your child learn language.
A toddler with an expressive language delay may already have a small vocabulary to pull from. Those words may include mama, dada, baby, etc. When the toddler uses one of those words, repeat it and add another word. Make new connections for them with a new word and the “old” word.
- Use those “speech muscles”
If your child is able to blow bubbles, this is a great way to work the “speech muscles”. Party horns, straws, or whistles can also be lots of fun! We like to use http://www.talktools.com/original-horn-kit/ along with http://www.talktools.com/straw-kit/
Instead of a sippy cup, offer your child his/her drink in a small open cup or in a cup that requires a straw. This encourages use of other muscles in the mouth that are important for speech.
Make silly faces in the mirror with your child – stick out your tongue, move it from side to side, make it go up and down, puff up your cheeks with air, make “kiss” faces and “fish” faces, open wide, and smile!
- Encourage imitation of all kinds
Make animal sounds, car sounds, or train sounds and encourage your child to imitate these. These sounds contain the basic vowel sounds that are a part of speech (“moooo”, “baaaa”). Blowing raspberries, clicking your tongue, or “popping” your lips are fun to copy too!
- Read with your child
Read books to and with your child every day. Let your child pick out the book he/she wants to read. Even if you make up your own words or story to go with the pictures, or just point to pictures and talk about what you see. This is great language practice for your child!
Blog By: Rebekah Greer
For further information contact us at 360-0200 or visit us at
- Condense your words- It’s great to speak to your child in an adult way, that’s how he/she learns new vocabulary! Some children, especially those with receptive language delays, can benefit from shorter, more concise directions to aid in their comprehension. Instead of using several longer sentences, provide directions or ask questions using shorter phrases and sentences. As your child’s comprehension increases, you can add complexity to the direction. Emphasizing certain key words can also aid in comprehension, such as “Put the ball on the table.”
- Use Visual Cues- Provide visual cues to help your child follow directions. Point directly to objects you are speaking about, or make gestures to match your speech. Point to pictures in books as you are reading. Demonstrate what you’re asking your child to do, if needed. This helps your child connect what you’re saying to the request or action. Provide a lot of praise when your child completes the action. Be sure to fade these “cues” as your child’s comprehension increases to increase independent and unprompted use of speech.
- Photos and Pictures- Use photos or pictures to improve your child’s comprehension. Have photos of your child doing activities or going places that will be meaningful to them. When you say to your child “Time to wash hands”, show your child the picture of him/her washing hands to provide the extra cue. You can also use these photos in a photo album or book. Look at the photos with your child to help increase both receptive and expressive language. Include photos of family members to help your child increase his/her knowledge of “who” some of those people are.
- Hide and Seek- Have your child hide a favorite toy in a specific location – “Put the bear on the table/under the chair/in the box”. This helps increase your child’s understanding of spatial concepts and prepositions. You can expand this further by hiding preferred items and asking your child “Where is the bear?”. Initiating them to respond with “I don’t know.”, or “Bear where are you?” etc. and then stating “The bear is on the bookshelf.” types of responses to provide additional cueing for spatial concepts.
- Ask yes/no questions- During the day, ask your child questions that require a simple yes or no response. Encourage both nodding and saying “yes”, and do the same for “no”. Start with basic yes/no questions like “Do you want…”, then move on to questions like “Is this a ball? Are you a boy/girl? Eventually you can move on to more complex questions like “Does a cow bark?”
- Use as many scenarios as you are able, throughout the day, to increase your child’s communicative interactions. This may encourage further speech development across multiple environments.
Blog By: Rebekah Greer
For further information contact us at 360-0200 or visit us at
Here are some common questions that I run into when working in a school or a clinic setting from professionals and parents.
Q: Is there a difference between Speech and Language Therapy?
A: Yes! Speech and Language therapy two different entities. A speech disorder refers to a problem with the actual production of sounds, whereas a language disorder refers to a difficulty understanding or appropriately putting words together to communicate ideas.
Q: Are there different types of speech disorders?
A: Yes, there are four main areas:
- An Articulation disorder or Phonological disorder. An articulation disorder refers to incorrect sound production. A phonological disorder refers to incorrect sound patterns. These disorders can greatly reduce intelligibility in conversation.
- A Fluency disorder refers to stuttering. This is when the flow of speech is characterized by abnormal stops, repetitions, and/or prolonging sounds.
- A Voice disorder refers to problems with pitch, volume, or quality of the voice.
- Dysphagia/oral feeding disorders refer to difficulties with eating and swallowing.
Q: Are there different types of language disorders?
A: Yes, there are two main areas:
- A Receptive disorder is characterized by difficultly understanding or processing language.
- A Expressive disorder is characterized by difficulty expressing thoughts and wants/needs, limited vocabulary, or inability to use language in a socially appropriate way.
Q: What types of interventions are used in speech/language therapy?
A: There are numerous types of interventions based on what deficits are present. Listed below are some of the most widely used therapies.
- Interventions for articulation and phonological disorders: minimal pair therapy, paired auditory, visual, and tactile stimuli in intensive drills, traditional articulation therapy (Van Riper, 1978), and training sound combinations (CV, VC, CVC…).
- Interventions for fluency disorders: fluency shaping, traditional stuttering therapy (Van Riper, 1958), and diaphragmatic breathing.
- Interventions for voice disorders: teaching good vocal hygiene, reducing/stopping vocal abusive behaviors, altering pitch, volume, or breathe support, and stress reduction/relaxation exercises.
- Interventions for dysphagia/oral feeding disorder: sensory stimulation, pacing/feeding strategies, oral motor exercises, maneuvers, adaptive equipment/utensils, diet modification, postural/positioning techniques, and behavioral interventions.
- Interventions for expressive language disorders: increasing vocabulary, teaching strategies for social language, increasing ability to answer WH questions, augmentative devices, and strategies to increase syntax skills.
- Interventions for receptive language disorders: increasing vocabulary, strategies to improve the ability to follow directions, and strategies to improve comprehension of WH questions.
Blog By: Mary Williams- Anderson
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