Milestones: How do I know if my child needs speech pathology?

By the age of 1, your child should be able to:

Understanding

  • Smile when sees you
  • Moves eyes in direction of sounds
  • Responds to changes in tone of your voice
  • Responds to their name
  • Pays attention to music
  • Enjoys games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
  • Listens when spoken to
  • Recognizes words for common items (cup, book, shoe, spoon)
  • Begins to respond to requests (come here, want more?)
  • Responds to ‘no’, ‘wait’ and ‘stop’
  • May point to objects or people

Talking

  • Babbling has both long and short groups of sounds (tata upup bibibibi)
  • Uses speech or noncrying sounds to get and keep attention
  • Uses gestures to communicate (waving, holding arms to be picked up)
  • Imitates different speech sounds
  • Has 5-10 (or more) consistent words (hi, dog, dada, mama) around first birthday, although sounds may not be clear

Play/ Pre-verbal

  • Copies actions that an adult does
  • Attempts to copy sounds that an adult makes
  • Uses eye contact
  • Is able to take turns in games
  • Anticipates what will happen next in a game (in games such as round, round the garden and this little piggy)

Warning Signs

  • Little or no babbling
  • Does not respond to familiar voices
  • Shows no recognition of their own name
  • Shows little or no recognitions of names of common people objects and action words
2 Years Make An Enquiry

By the age of 2, your child should be able to:

Understanding

  • Points to simple body parts when asked (nose, mouth)
  • Follows simple commands and understands simple questions (roll the ball, kiss the baby)
  • Listens to simple stories, songs, and rhymes
  • Points to pictures in a book, when named
  • Understands simple prepositions (on/off, in/out, up/down)
  • Understands simple ‘what’ questions (what’s this?)
  • Understands yes/no
  • Shows interest in reading

Talking

  • Uses approximately 100-200 single words (no, teddy, mummy, daddy, up)
  • Says more words every month.
  • Puts two words together (more cookie)
  • Uses some pronouns (me, mine)
  • Uses words more often than gestures
  • Names common pictures and listens to stories
  • Answer yes/no questions

Play

  • Matches pictures and objects
  • Matches colours
  • Will demonstrate pretend play (drinking from a cup, having a picnic)

Warning Signs

  • Few single words
  • Limited number of new words being learnt
  • Not putting two words together in simple combinations
  • Cannot understand or follow simple instructions
  • Does not use objects when playing
  • Doesn’t understand or respond to simple questions
3 Years Make An Enquiry

By the age of 3 years, your child should be able to:

Understanding

  • Follow two step related commands (get your socks and put your shoes on)
  • Understand prepositions (top/bottom, under/over)
  • Understand quantity concepts (empty/full)
  • Understand basic concepts (hard/soft, big/little, same/different)
  • Point to body parts (simple- eyes, complex- eyebrows)
  • Knows function of body parts and objects
  • Understands ‘who’, ‘where’ and ‘what’ questions (what’s the dog doing?)
  • Understands negatives (no shoes, not running)
  • Recognises simple colours (red, blue, green)
  • Name actions from pictures (running, jumping)
  • Understand gender (boy/girl)

Talking

  • Uses approximately 500 words
  • Uses 3-4 sentences
  • Begins to use simple grammar (kicked, socks)
  • Begins to ask yes/no questions
  • Asks questions ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘who’ questions
  • Starts to tell stories
  • Identify gender (boy/girl)
  • Use basic verbs (play, do a wee)

Speech Sounds

Children can be understood 60% of the time. Sounds that are produced correctly:

  • p
  • b
  • m
  • w
  • h
  • t
  • d
  • n
  • k
  • g
  • y

Warning Signs

  • Using short sentences (2 words)
  • Doesn’t respond to questions or repeating back your questions, rather then answering
  • Doesn’t ask questions
  • Doesn’t follow two step instructions
  • Doesn’t play/ not interested in playing with other children
  • Doesn’t produce sounds at the beginning, middle or ends of words
  • Less familiar people find it hard to understand your child
4 Years Make An Enquiry

By the age of 4 years, your child should be able to:

Understanding

  • Understand prepositions (front/back, next to)
  • Understand concepts (long/tall/short)
  • Understand quantity concepts (most/many)
  • Understand sequence concepts (first/last)
  • Understands ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions
  • Recognises colours and shapes
  • Follow 3 step instructions (pick up your shoes, put them on and walk to the door)
  • Sort pictures/objects into categories

Talking

  • Uses eye contact consistently throughout conversations
  • Uses approximately 900-1000 words (or over), in 4-5 word sentences
  • Answers why and how questions
  • Grammatically correct sentences with a few mistakes
  • Uses pronouns (he/she, her/him, his)
  • Uses a variety of descriptive words and concepts
  • Uses ‘and’ and ‘because’ in sentences
  • Sequences and re-tells two-three events in order of occurrence (first we put on our shoes, then we went outside)

Speech Sounds

Children can be understood by most people. Sounds that are produced correctly:

  • p, b, m, w, h, t, d, n,
  • k
  • g
  • f
  • l
  • sh
  • ch
  • s

Warning Signs

  • People find it difficult to understand your child
  • Limited sentences and grammar, including not using correct pronouns
  • Unable to give a clear recount or sequence events
  • Limited eye contact
5 Years Make An Enquiry

By the time of 5 years, your child should be able to:

Understanding

  • Understand sequence concepts (first/second/third/last, beginning/middle/end)
  • Recognise items that don’t belong in categories
  • Understand ‘when’ questions
  • Start to understand time concepts (day/night, morning, afternoon, night)
  • Understand opposites and comparatives (big/biggest, wet/dry)
  • Follow three part instructions, including time words (get your shoes before you get your hat)
  • Understand numbers, letters and shapes

Talking

  • Use complex sentences with correct grammar
  • Use all pronouns correctly (he/she, her/him, he’s/her’s, I/me, them, us)
  • Talks about events that happened, might have happened or that are going to happen
  • Talks in details, using a variety of descriptive words and vocabulary
  • Talks about feelings and emotions
  • Answer ‘when’ questions
  • Explain why items don’t belong together
  • Start to use some irregular verbs (fell)
  • Can count to 1-15 or onwards
  • Identify some letters
  • Identify most shapes
  • Can write their name and draw a person (doesn’t have to be perfect!)

Speech Sounds

Children should be understood all the time. Sounds that are produced correctly:

  • p, b, m, w, h, t, d, n,
  • k
  • g
  • f
  • l
  • sh
  • ch
  • s
  • j
  • z
  • v
  • r

Warning Signs

  • Unable to follow instructions
  • Using short sentences, unable to tell back events or recounts
  • Unable to answer questions
  • Many grammatical errors in sentences
  • People find it hard to understand your child (the only errors that are appropriate at this age or that are still developing are ‘r’, ‘v’ and ‘th’)
  • Shows little/ no interest in letters, reading or writing
Early Primary School Make An Enquiry

Your child should be able to:

  • Follow complex instructions
  • Understand the concepts of ‘right’ and ‘left’
  • Use complex sentences, explaining themselves in a logical and clear manner
  • Grammar is correct, including irregular verbs (broke, fell)
  • Use specific vocabulary, relevant to topics
  • Ask different questions, to maintain a conversation
  • Listen and attend to stories
  • Can retell what happened in a story that was told to them or that they read
  • Break words in syllables
  • Hear the first, middle and last sounds in word
  • Recognise all letters and sounds
  • Spell basic sight words and starts to learn some rules of spelling (vowels and consonants)
  • Understand rhyming words
  • Break and blend words into individual sounds (dog  d, o, g)
  • Later developing sounds ‘th’, ‘r’ and ‘v’ are clear in words

Warning Signs

  • Not following all instructions
  • Not able to spontaneously say all the parts in multisyllabic words (computer  com-put-er, hospital  hos-pit-al)
  • Difficulties in retelling events or telling a story
  • Unable to blend sounds together and break up words into sounds (dog  d, o, g)
  • Cannot write letters from hearing sounds
  • Cannot identify sounds or letters
  • Easily distracted at school or displays frustration (may be classified as being naughty)
  • Avoidance behaviours with certain academic activities (reading)
  • Consistently not finishing work and activities in class.
  • At home is not able to produce work within an appropriate time period.
Later Primary School Make An Enquiry

Your child should be able to:

  • Follow instructions to complete all academic activities in the classroom
  • Use complex written and oral sentences, including conjunctions (then, until, but)
  • Write basic text types (narratives, recount, procedure) and advanced text types (expositions, persuasive texts)
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the rules of spelling
  • Has a large sight word vocabulary
  • Employ strategies to read and spell unfamiliar and longer words
  • Read grade level texts fluently and answer comprehension questions

Warning Signs

  • Problems creating sentences, using conjunctions (while, before, until, so, but)
  • Difficulties expressing themselves in a clear, logical manner
  • Difficulties giving instructions
  • Reading is not fluent or at the level expected for their age
  • Unable to answer questions correctly about texts they have heard or read
  • Difficulties constructing text types
  • Poor or limited sight word vocabulary, which may lead to disfluent reading
  • Reluctant to participate in group activities and discussions
  • Displays challenging or sometimes ‘naughty’ behaviour (refusing to participate, disrupting the class)
  • Consistently not finishing work and activities in class.
  • At home is not able to produce work within an appropriate time period.

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