Speech/language development focuses on the ability to express and/or comprehend language at an age appropriate level. Children are unique individuals who develop language at their own rate. Some children will develop faster or slower than others. If a child does not seem to acquire the appropriate language skills within a few months of the average age, a speech/language evaluation may be warranted. Treatment enhances overall communication skills, both verbal and nonverbal, in areas such as vocabulary, grammar, comprehension and social skills.
Age-Appropriate Language Skills
Tips for Facilitating Speech/Language Development
|Average Age||Receptive Language||Expressive Language|
|1-3 months||Quiets activity when approached by sound. Looks at speaker.||Begins to differentiate cries. Smiles.|
|3-6 months||Turns head toward sound source. Begins to respond to words: “no-no”, mama, daddy.”||Babbling begins and becomes more complex each month.Laughs at play.|
|6-9 months||Begins to respond with gestures to words such as “up, bye-bye, come.” Recognizes own name and some common objects. Begins to show interest in pictures.||Plays speech gesture games like Patty-Cake, Peek-a-boo. Uses gesture for “yes” and “no.”|
|9-12 months||Will give toys or objects to others on verbal request. Follows simple commands (Put that down). Will make appropriate responses to some requests (“Say bye-bye”).||First words; “mama” and “dada”. Vocalizes in varied jargon. By one year says 3 consistent words.|
|12-18 months||Understands more and more new words each week. Understands names of body parts. Comprehends most simple commands.||Says 20 consistent words. Begins to use words rather than gestures. There is a continual, gradual increase in expressive vocabulary.|
|18-24 months||Follows action word commands: “run, walk”. Begins comprehending personal pronouns. Listens to the meaning of language, not just the intonation and single words. Answers “what, who, and where” questions by pointing.||Begins combining words into 2-3 word utterances. Refers to self by name. Personal pronouns “me” and “mine”emerge.|
|24-36 months||Begins to identify objects by function. Develops understanding of prepositions; on, under, front. Understands possessives; boy’s coat, girl’s ball. Answers situational questions (“What do you wear when it rains?”)||Counts to 5. Begins to use “wh” questions. Most people can understand conversation. Regularly relates recent past.|
|36-48 months||Understands past tense. Can follow a two part unrelated command. Knows most body parts. Can answer some “why”and “how” questions. Uses 4-5 word sentences.||Uses plural forms correctly. Can relate name and address along with age and gender. Uses past and present words.|
|48-60 months||Can categorize objects. Knows how old he will be on next birthday. Understands comparative such as bigger and biggest. Can answer questions about past, present, and future.||Uses 5-6 word sentences. Completes 3 opposites (i.e., “A rabbit is fast, a turtle is ____.” Uses adjectives such as “tiny, large, smooth.” Grammar closely matches parents.|
Tips For Facilitating Speech/Language Development
- Create a Positive Climate For Communication
- Use your voice in interesting ways.
- Get down on your child’s level.
- Tune into your child’s interests.
- Let your child participate. Language is best learned while doing.
- Let your face and voice show your child you are interested.
- Turn off the television, and remove distractions.
Listen for Your Child’s Message
- Show your child you want to understand.
- Listen to your child’s tone of voice. Voices reflect feelings. Watch the face, body, and hands to help you understand your child’s message.
Make Your Talk Relevant
- Talk about the here and now.
- Talk about the obvious - what your child is doing, hearing, seeing, smelling, or tasting.
- Put your child’s feelings into words to let him know you understand his feelings.
Helping Your Child Understand Words
- Everything has a name. Use the name, rather than “baby talk.”
- Use short simple sentences. Avoid using single words; they do not give enough information.
- Tell, then show your child what you want him or her to do.
- Use repetition. Say it again and again. Give your child a chance to show that he or she understands.
- Talk slowly.
Give Your Child the Words He/She Needs and Wants
- Reward your child when he or she attempts to say a word.
- When your child uses a single word, repeat it an put it back into a sentence.
- When your child uses incomplete or incorrect language or speech, repeat the message correctly.
- Expand your child’s vocabulary by adding new words and explaining their meaning.
- Let your child hear new and more difficult sentence forms.
- When your child expresses an idea, repeat it and then expand his or her thoughts by adding new information.
- Ask questions that require more than “yes” or “no” answers.