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Is my kiddo on track: Quick guide

Whether you are a brand new mom or simply unsure if your youngster is on track with speech- language milestones, here is a short list of skills we generally see unfold in developing children:

Hearing and Understanding (Receptive language)

12- 24 months-

  1. Points to a few body parts when asked

  2. Follows simple commands and understands simple questions (“Roll the ball,” “Find the baby,” “Where’s your shoe?”)

  3. Listens to simple stories, songs, and rhymes

  4. Points to pictures in a book when named

24- 36 months-

  1. Understands names of a variety of common objects (nouns) and basic actions in context (verbs)

  2. Understands differences in meaning (“go-stop,” “in-on,” “big-little,” “up-down”)- spatial and descriptive concepts

  3. Follows two requests (“Get the book and put it on the table”)- these are two part commands

  4. Listens to and enjoys hearing stories for longer periods of time- able to attend and show interest in learning more

Three to Four years-

  1. Hears you when you call from another room

  2. Hears television or radio at the same loudness level as other family members

  3. Understands words for some colors, like red, blue, and green

  4. Understands words for some shapes, like circle and square

  5. Follows two and three step requests

  6. Undersands a variety of ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘who’ questions across most contexts

Talking (Expressive language)

12- 24 months-

  1. Vocalizes more consonant sounds- developmentally earlier ones are: b, p, m, w

  2. Imitates sounds and approximates commonly used words

  3. Says more words every month

  4. Uses some one- or two- word questions (“Where kitty?” “Go bye-bye?” “What’s that?”)

  5. Puts two words together (“more cookie,” “no juice,” “mommy book”)

  6. Uses many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words

24- 36 months-

  1. Has a word for almost everything

  2. Uses two- or three- words to talk about and ask for things

  3. Uses k, g, f, t, d, and n sounds

  4. Speech is understood by familiar listeners most of the time

  5. Often asks for or directs attention to objects by naming them

  6. Asks ‘why?’

  7. May “stutter” on words or sounds- for many kids this is just a phase of figuring out motor aspect of speech

Three to Four years-

  1. Talks about activities at school or at friends’ homes

  2. Talks about what happened during the day

  3. Uses about 4 sentences at a time

  4. People outside of the family usually understand child’s speech

  5. Answers simple “who?”, “what?”, and “where?” questions

  6. Asks ‘when’ and ‘how’ questions

  7. Says rhyming words, like hat-cat

  8. Uses pronouns, like I, you, me, we, and they

  9. Uses some plural words, like toys, birds, and buses

  10. Uses a lot of sentences that have 4 or more words

  11. Usually talks easily without repeating syllables or words


Adapted from ASHA guidelines

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