Speech Pathology, Your Child’s Age, And Developmental Milestones

Is there a "right" age for a child to start speech pathology services? Your child has a noticeable language or communication issue. But you're not sure if this is common for their age or they need help from a speech pathologist. Take a look at what parents need to know about speech and language development, age, and the decision to start therapy.

What Are the Milestones for Speech and Language Development?

The word milestone itself is often confusing for parents. While milestones are age-graded markers of specific developmental tasks (such as talking or walking), they aren't set in stone. This means some children may meet milestones earlier, while others meet them later. 

Even though there are individual differences between the rate at which children meet milestones, you will find a progression of markers that you should expect your child to follow. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, speech and language developmental milestones for young children include:

  • Infants at one year. By the end of the first year, children can usually listen when spoken to, understand words for every day or commonly used items, respond to basic requests, babble (use sounds such as "baba"), use physical gestures, and may say one or two short words.

  • Toddlers between one- and two years. Your child's speech and language development dramatically increase this year. They'll learn new words, put two words together to make a simple sentence, point to pictures you name in books, and understand basic questions.

  • Ages two- to three years. Older toddlers have words for almost everything in their world. While they will still use two- to three-word sentences, they have a vast vocabulary and can speak in a way that you and other adults who see them regularly (such as a daycare teacher) can understand.

  • Preschoolers ages three- to four years. Preschoolers can create multi-word sentences that are more complex than what you would expect from a toddler. They also have an expanded vocabulary and can speak much more clearly.

Now that you know more about what to expect from your young child's speech and language development, it's time to ask the next question—do they need to see a professional?

When Should Children Start Speech Therapy?

There's no magic age to start this type of therapy service. Before you decide to, or not to, consult a speech-language pathologist, consider:

  • Your child's typical individual progression. Does your child usually lag behind expected milestones in other areas by a few weeks or even months? This could just indicate your child's individual pattern of development.

  • The problematic issue. There isn't one type of speech or language disorder. Some children struggle to understand others, while others have difficulty expressing themselves verbally.

  • Normal speech patterns. It's normal for younger children to mispronounce some words or sounds.

T learn more information about speech pathology, reach out to a company such as Eastern Carolina Ear Nose & Throat-Head.