Developmental Norms

A common question that parents ask is whether their child is developing their speech language skills at a normal or average pace. The truth is that every child is different and barring some infirmity will develop normally over time. So, the proper identification of a speech language issue or delay may be somewhat difficult at first given the differences in all children.

Of course, there are averages that most children will conform to over time when it comes to the development of their speech. The key is to spot issues that repeat with a child so that the proper diagnosis can be made. Quite often this starts with the family doctor who can make an initial diagnosis so that a speech therapist can then look at the child.

Identifying Deviations from Normal Progress

The most difficult part for parents is understanding the difference between a temporary issue with your child’s speech and one that is more permanent in nature. While there is no normal development time pattern, there are averages that can be a useful guideline for parents who are concerned that their child is not developing in the right manner.

Signs to look for include your child not responding to certain sounds, not vocalizing correctly, or issues where they have trouble speaking the sounds in the proper manner. While all children will mispronounce words when they are developing, this will correct itself over time as they hear the word or words more often and then vocalize them. If this is not happening, then your child may have an articulation issue.

Speech Skills Chart

Here is a basic guideline that will help you spot potential developmental issues with the speech of your child.

Up to Three Months:

  • Shows signs of recognizing your voice
  • Reacts to your presence
  • Cries differently for different wants
  • Changes rate of sucking behavior to different sounds

Up to Six Months:

  • Responds to music
  • Looks in the direction of sounds
  • Starts to vocalize when happy or sad
  • Responds to changes in your voice

Up to Twelve Months

  • Listens to your voice
  • Enjoys playing games
  • Recognizes certain words
  • Responds to basic questions
  • Babbles more frequently

By their first birthday, they should respond to their name and understand basic gestures. They will also use various sounds and play games with you. This is also the time they will start to speak their first word. At this point, they will also start to accelerate the development of their language skills.

By fifteen to eighteen months, they will start using more sounds and gestures, simple words, and understand directions. They will also start to imitate the words you say, understand different body parts, and expand to pretend playing where they pretend to feed a baby doll for example.

Up to Twenty-Four Months

  • Speaks up to 50 words
  • Recognizes pictures, listens to stories
  • Uses different sounds when starting to speak
  • Starts to put words together

This development will continue up to and past their fifth birthday. In addition to the guidelines, you’ll need to look for repeated mistakes in pronunciation that they cannot correct even with your assistance. Such sings should be reported to your family doctor.

Consult with an Expert Speech or Occupational Therapist