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Speech/Language Development

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.