Self Help for Children

Speech and language development begins at birth; however, children develop speech, sounds and language at different rates. They should be able to say all speech sounds correctly by age 8. Guidelines for speech and language development follow:

Birth-3 Months

  • Uses few sounds
  • Communicates by crying

Birth-6 Months

  • Uses different cries for different needs
  • Turns, looks, smiles at familiar voices and sounds
  • Begins to coo using vowel-like sounds
  • Makes different experimental sounds

6-12 Months

  • Starts to understand word meaning
  • Learns language of daily routines
  • Babbles using consonant and vowel combinations
  • Begins to imitate sounds

12-18 Months

  • Begins to use meaningful words
  • Pronounces some words correctly
  • Uses most vowels and some consonants consistently

12-24 Months

  • Says first words and meaningful sound combinations
  • Follows a variety of basic directions
  • Recognizes common objects and their uses
  • Produces about 270 words by 24 months

1 ½ -2 Years

  • Produces rapid speech sound development
  • Simplifies difficult words

2-3 Years

  • Uses more words
  • Combines words to expand meaning
  • Produces sentences of three to four words by age 3
  • Produces 300-500 words by age 3

3-5 Years

  • Follows two to three directions
  • Produces 600-1600 words
  • Talks about experiences and recent events
  • Talks in longer, more complex sentences
  • Speaks in understandable language 80-100% of the time
  • Produces more complex speech sounds

Top Speech Development Strategies

  • Be a good model for your child; don't use baby talk.
  • Pronounce words clearly and slowly for your child to hear and imitate.
  • Look at your child when you are talking.
  • Repeat new words and sounds; use them in conversation.
  • Praise your child when the sounds he or she makes are correct.
  • Between the ages of 2 and 6 almost all children repeat sounds, syllables and words that may sound like stuttering.
  • This may last a few weeks or several months, but will eventually disappear.

Managing Stuttering

  • Don't call attention to your child by facial expressions or verbal comments.
  • Don't tell your child to slow down.
  • Make sure your child is getting rest, a healthy diet and exercise.
  • Reduce tensions at home.
  • Give your child plenty of time to talk without interruption.
  • Don't be impatient or embarrassed by your child's speech.
  • Discipline calmly.

A child may have a voice disorder resulting from vocal abuse. Please ask your doctor for a referral to speech therapy if you are concerned about any of the speech/language voice or swallowing problems described. Patients are evaluated by a certified speech/language pathologist with an advanced degree, who performs evaluations, counsels you about the results and provides appropriate therapy as ordered by your physician.

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