At OVCT, we believe that Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) are experts in communication, but that parents/caregivers are the experts in their children. Together, we make the perfect team!

I've met with many parents over the years and have found that parents generally have good intuition about their child's development. If you have concerns about your child's communication development, it's always best to consult with a speech language pathologist. In doing so one of two things may happen:

1) Your child is not identified as having a communication delay and you can put your worries to rest. Your therapist may offer additional home suggestions to ensure that your child's language  continues to progress and grow. 

2) Your child is identified with a communication delay, and you can begin the speech-language therapy process so that your child can learn age-appropriate communication skills. This will help your child better advocate for his/herself, communicate with peers and build friendships, express thoughts and ideas, learn new concepts, and follow directions. Prognosis is most favorable when intervention is provided early, which is why seeking a consultation or evaluation when initially concerned is vital. 

In summary, if you have concerns about your child's communication development (and remember- you are the expert on your child), it's a good idea to consult with a speech language pathologist.

In addition to your parent intuition, several communication red flags are listed below. The following behaviors may be indicative of atypical development [rather than simply delayed speech/language development]:

  • Difficulty engaging with familiar family members and/or peers
  • Limited use of gestures and words
  • Poor eye contact
  • Small vocabulary with limited verbs
  • Limited productions of sounds
  • Lateral lisping on the sounds "s, sh, ch"
  • Difficulty understanding directions and learning new vocabulary


Lastly, below you will find some general communication norms with expected age of mastery to look out for in your child's life.

By 6 months, your child should:

  • notice/respond to sounds in the environment
  • vocalize excitement and displeasure

By 12 months, your child should:

  • follow simple directions such as "get the ball"
  • recognize the names of common objects/objects you speak of frequently. Examples might include: ball, Dad/Mom, keys, teddy, juice, etc.
  • use simple gestures like shaking head 'no' or waving 'bye-bye'
  • says one or two words

By 18 months, your child should:

  • say and shake his/her head for 'no'
  • point to show what s/he wants
  • starts to create 2-word sentences such as "Daddy go" or "Doggy sleep"

By 2 years, your child should:

  • know names of body parts and familiar people
  • create sentences that contain 2-4 words such as "I want juice" or "I want apple juice"
  • be understood by others 75% of the time

By 3 years, your child should:

  • follow 2-3 step directions such as "get your coat, put on your shoes, go in the car" or "touch your nose, jump up, spin around"
  • understand spatial concepts such as 'in' or 'under'
  • carries on a conversation over 2-3 exchanges with their talking/play partner

By 4 years, your child should:

  • sing familiar songs and finger plays such as "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Wheels on the bus"
  • says he and she and uses other simple grammatical marks such as plurals (e.g., catS, dogS, etc.) and past tense verbs (e.g., kickED, playED, etc.)

By 5 years, your child should:

  • use future tense such as "Grandma WILL BE here today"
  • tell a simple story using full sentences
  • says name (first and last) and address
  • vocabulary typically around 1,500 words
  • creates sentences that contain 4-5 words such as "Where's my blue car" or "I want to play outside"

By age 6, your child should:

  • create sentences that contain 5-6 words such as "I don't want a bath" or "I want to see Grandma today"
  • understands and says opposites such as "big/little" or "fast/slow"
  • ask and answer -wh questions


If you are curious about speech sound development, be sure to check out my blog posts here and here.