Why isn’t my child reaching their speech milestones?
Learning how to communicate is an important part of your child’s development. We all need language to express our thoughts and feelings, to develop critical thinking, and to exchange information with other people.
While no two children are the same, there are certain milestones that most kids hit at similar ages. Communication milestones follow a natural progression in the development of language skills. They indicate if your child is on track, or if they might need a bit of extra help.
If your child isn’t reaching certain milestones as they grow up, it’s worth investigating. Chances are they are just on their own timeline. But if there’s a bigger issue at play, it’s good to get assistance sooner rather than later.
Birth to 1 year
Your baby will be happily babbling away as they learn to use their voice and make sounds. While this babble sounds like nonsense, it’s actually a sign your bub is already practicing expressive language skills.
By the time they’re 1 year old, your baby typically will:
- Pay increasing attention when others are talking
- Respond to simple verbal requests like “where’s daddy?” and look towards him
- Say their first word other than mumma or dadda
- Use exclamations (uh-oh!)
- Shake their head for no
1 to 2 years
This year is when you child will typically start to really experiment with communication. By 2 years of age they should:
- Have at least 50 different words they use all the time
- Start to be combining two-word phrases
- Follow simple instructions such as “get the ball”
- Understand basic routines like “bath time” and they move towards the bathroom
2 to 3 years
By the end of your child’s third year of life, they will typically have a lot to say! During this time, your little one’s communication is exploding. And their emotions are starting to develop as well… which they don’t always express quietly!!
A typical three year old will be able to:
- Name objects, familiar people, and body parts
- Use at least three-word sentences
- Speak clearly enough to be understood by strangers
- Use different types of words correctly (such as in, on, behind, and next)
- Define common objects by use (house, key, etc)
- Use five to six words correctly in a sentence
3 to 6 years
In this age bracket, your child’s language abilities are becoming more complex. They will start demonstrating the ability to think critically, make more complex decisions, and express their own ideas.
As your child grows from 3-6 years, they will:
- Use two or more personal pronouns (I, you, he, she)
- Hold conversations and make few grammatical errors
- Tell a story in past and future tense
- Be easily understood by strangers
- Understand prepositions (in, out, beside)
- Follow a series of 3 instructions in a row
Why your child may not be reaching their milestones
As adults, it’s easy to take language for granted. But language is complex, and there’s lots that can derail your child’s progress.
Sometimes, an oral-motor issue might be the culprit. Or maybe it’s a hearing problems that can make learning sounds to make words difficult. Developmental delays and disorders such as Autism, Down Syndrome, and processing difficulties can also derail language development. It’s hard to know the exact cause but with the right support, they may be able to catch up.
When is intervention required?
As a parent, you might get a gut feeling that something ‘isn’t right’. It’s best to follow this instinct and see a speech pathologist if you notice:
- Saying words and sounds are a struggle, or your child stutters
- They’re unable to respond to questions (e.g. what, why)
- Strangers are not able to understand them
- Frustration at not being able to express thoughts
- They have trouble following directions
- They can’t understand or explain meanings of common words
How are language delays treated?
Speech pathologists are trained in a variety of therapies to help support language development. Here at SpeechEase, we use many techniques including language stimulation strategies during play to develop your child’s language skills. These include:
- Modelling language using speech, signs and symbols
- Commentating on what the child is doing
- Using predictable scripts so the child knows what language can be used during activities.
- Recasting what your child has said and expanding on it.
- Offering opportunities for them to add something by waiting.
Your Speech Pathologist will go through the strategies that are specific for your child and show you how to use these in everyday life.
SpeechEase Speech Therapy offers one-on-one sessions with you and your child. These include a comprehensive case history as well as formal assessments of speech, language and pre-literacy skills. Then, based on this information and during discussion with you, they will come up with goals for therapy. They will then provide information on treatment approaches that will be used in therapy as well on what needs to be done at home to best achieve your goals.
One-on-one sessions are a great way to participate in individualised therapy to help achieve your child’s goals.
We also hold regular group sessions where kids can develop their communication skills in a social and fun environment.
What to do next
If your child isn’t reaching common language milestones, it’s best to get things checked out. Give us a call on 0423 334 144 for a free 15 minute consultation with one of our friendly speech therapists. Alternatively, click here to leave us a message online.