Speech and Language Milestones for Toddlers
When monitoring a child’s speech and language development, established speech and language milestones are the most important form of guidance for determining a child’s natural course in communication development.
While every child is going to develop at their own rate, there are speech and language development milestones that are expected to be reached within a certain age range. Insufficient opportunities for exposure to sounds and communication-rich experiences within their environment can be major risk factors for developing delays in language skills and difficulty in learning for young children. Therefore, it is critical to monitor a child’s communication milestones, especially from birth to age three.
What are Speech and Language Milestones?
A speech milestone refers to a significant developmental achievement in a person’s ability to produce and articulate sounds, words, and sentences and language milestones refer to the usage of words when sharing thoughts and getting what they desire while using words to communicate.
Speech and language milestones can be grouped into various age ranges such as birth to three months, three to six months, three to four years, and so on. These milestones mark crucial stages in speech and language acquisition and communication skills, providing a framework for monitoring and assessing a person’s speech and language development.
How does Speech and Language Develop?
Speech and language milestones are signs of typical communication development that are exhibited at a particular age. Toddlers develop speech and language skills through consistent interaction, not only with their caregivers but also with other adults and children. In these early stages of language development, the toddler’s brain is programmed to attend to speech sounds and begin to imitate them.
For example, a newborn’s normal communication signs or speech milestones include becoming startled by a sudden loud noise, being soothed or calmed by their mother’s voice, and turning their head towards the voice of a speaker. These milestones emerge and will continue to develop each month.
Monitoring Speech and Language Milestones
It is important to remember that developmental milestones are achieved within a range of months. A speech and language developmental chart is a great resource that serves as a guide to help you monitor speech and language development in early childhood. Early identification and treatment of a delay in speech and language development can better ensure your student is set on the right path.
Speech and Language Development Checklist
A checklist can be a great resource, however, It’s crucial to remember that children progress at their individual pace of development. Checklists and developmental charts tell you when most children will reach each milestone. Early detection of speech and language challenges allows for timely resources, interventions and support to be provided. When children miss one or two milestones in an age range, this does not necessarily mean there is a problem. It is important to reach out to a professional if you have any questions about a child’s speech and language development.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 2022
Addressing Speech Milestone Delays
When a parent, a school professional, or a medical professional identifies a need for a speech and language evaluation, the first step is to create an evaluation plan that will provide the opportunity to gather necessary information when determining if there is a delay or a disorder. Then, if a delay in speech or language skill development is identified, the next step is to decide what type of intervention the child needs.
These interventions can be as simple as a parent reading/singing to a child or as complex as a referral to a developmental psychologist, speech-language pathologist, or other speech and development professional for a comprehensive treatment plan. With the growth of research-based information and medical technology, treatment plans have evolved to be composed of personalized evaluations, improved diagnostic capabilities, and better ways to differentiate between speech disorders. Speech professionals are now able to conduct formal and informal evaluations; collaborate with community-based and school-based related service providers; and provide personalized direct therapy sessions to assist families in supporting the toddler’s speech and language development remotely by way of privacy-protected wireless networks and digital devices.
Today, more babies, toddlers, and students have access to supportive services provided by speech professionals and other related service providers due to the advancement of telepractice. Our virtual speech-language pathologist can help your school provide the services they need. Click here to learn more about our teletherapy services.