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Speech-Language Development Resources

Parents often ask “what is normal speech and language development?” “Is my child experiencing a speech or language delay that may impact his or her social or academic development?” The following information should help with the identification of a speech and language disorder.  If you have concerns about your child’s communication skills, a speech and language assessment can be very helpful.  The information gathered at an initial assessment  will help determine if a speech or language disorder exists.  We are here to help assess, consult, and provide therapy services when a child is needing help with speech, language  and communication skills.

Speech and Language development:

 Age Receptive Language
 Expressing Language
 0-6 months
  • Eye contact when spoken to
  • Turns head to speaker
  • Knows name
  • Special cry for hunger.
  • Babbling (baba, mama, ..)
  • Laughing and pleasure sounds
 6-12 months
  • Knows common words (mama, up, no)
  • Follows simple requests
  • Says bye bye
  •  Imitates speech sounds
  • First words: mama, data, uh-oh
 1 year
  • Knows the names of many objects, body parts, and clothing
  • Uses words or gestures to communicate basic needs and wants — eat, drink
 2 years
  • Identifies pictures of objects
  • Knows use of objects (eg: comb and hair)
  • 25+ words in vocabulary
  • Combines words into 1-2 word phrases —baby eat
 3 years
  • Understands concepts that describe color, size, and number — red shoe, one cookie
  • Uses me and mine
  • Uses plurals – dogs
  • Speech sounds correctly produced:
    • m, p, b, n, g, k, w
  • Three or more word phrases
 4 years
  • Understands more as a concept
  • Weight, numbers, all colors
  • Knows 400+ words and pictures
  • Uses questions: what, where, who
  • Uses pronouns: he, she, I
  • Longer sentences
  • Speech sounds correctly produced:
    • m, p, b, n, g, k, w
    • f, ng
 5 years
  • Understands complex requests/questions/concepts: biggest, larger
  • Able to recall order of story or event
  • Mature speech and language use
  • Speech sounds correctly produced:
    • m, p, b, n, g, k, w
    • f, ng
    • l,sh,ch,j,s,z
6 years  
  • Speech sounds correctly produced:
    • m, p, b, n, g, k, w
    • f, ng
    • l,sh,ch,j,s,z
    • v, r,th, and consonant blends (fl,str,thr)

Warning signs for Pediatric Speech-Language Disorders


  • Difficulty sucking/nursing,
  • Drooling, difficulty using a cup by 9 months of age
  • Difficulty with chewing and swallowing foods
  • Pacifier past 18 months, thumb sucking past 3 years of age
  • Difficulty “starting speech” usually with the first sound of a word
  • Repetitions, Prolongations, Hesitations in speech
  • An unusual voice quality: nasal, rough, or hoarse
  • Unusual speech errors and multiple errors in words, phrases.
  • Speech that can’t be understood at least half of the time by 2 ½ -3 years of age by Parents. Speech that is not understood by others 3-4 years of age.
  • Child leaves omits, distorts, or substitutes sounds in words or deletes initial or final sounds in words.


  • Does not respond to or is not able to follow simple requests
  • Easily distracted and not able to listen to a book for a few minutes
  • Uses “baby talk” at 4 years or older
  • Demonstrates frustration and avoids social situations
  • Mostly imitates others and does not use his/her own words (age 3-4)
  • Uses limited vocabulary to express needs and interests
  • Does not follow simple directions by 3 years of age and more complex 2-3 step directions by 4-5 years of age.
  • Has a hard time naming objects, actions, feelings
  • Limited eye contact or regard during interactions with family or others
  • Limited attention to books and difficulty describing what happens.
  • Limited understanding and use of “wh” questions:  what, where, why, how
  • Limited imitation of sounds, words at  1-2 years old
  • Reduced vocabulary (less than 25 words at 2 years of age)
  • No pronoun usage by age 2, especially “me”, “mine”, “my”
  • Understands and uses words to get needs and wishes met by 18 months-2 years of age


  • Asks what? often
  • Poor attention to talking, music, etc.
  • Not responding to requests, questions, conversation during play
  • Complains about things being too loud
  • Has hands in ears often (especially 2-4 year olds)
  • Chronic ear infections – may be responsible for attention, hearing, speech, or language delays

More resources

From the American Speech-Language Hearing Association:

Speech-Language development:

News items of interest: