Knowledge is power.The earlier a child’s speech problems are identified, the greater the chance for success.

Difficulty understanding how to approach a new friend. Frustration in forming words. Trouble understanding others. If any of these things happen on regular basis with your child, you should consider a speech and language evaluation.

The chart below provides some more specific guidelines. If your child’s development does not match the stated goals for their age, a speech and language evaluation will determine if there is a problem. The earlier a child’s communication problems are identified and treated, the less likely it is that problems will persist and effect a child’s behavior, self confidence, and social and academic skills.

Speech & Language Milestones

2 – 3 years 3 – 4 years 4 – 5 years
understands 500-900 words understands most of what you say listens to and understands long strings of information
carries out series of two step directions responds to commands involving 2-3 actions Friendships become stronger. Plans sequence of pretend events
Uses doll figures to act out simple themes from own experience Uses one object to represent another. Prefers to play in groups of 2-3 Defines words in terms of use
Uses 2-3 word sentences Uses 4-5 word sentences Has mastered almost all speech sounds. Approximately 100% intelligible in conversation
Parents can understand approximately 70% of child’s speech Parents can understand approximately 75-100% of child’s speech Uses and understands a variety of concepts such as between, above, below, heavy, light
Knows at least five body parts Asks and answers what, where, who and why questions Retells stories and series of events in order
Able to comment and make requests to communicate ideas and wants Talks about recent events from school or home

The following information is taken directly from
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website.

When a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with his or her voice, then he or she has a speech disorder . Difficulties pronouncing sounds, or articulation disorders, and stuttering are examples of speech disorders.

When a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely (expressive language), then he or she has a language disorder. A stroke can result in aphasia, or a language disorder.

Both children and adults can have speech and language disorders. They can occur as a result of a medical problem or have no known cause.

If you have concerns about your child’s speech or language, call or email to schedule an evaluation.

Speech Disorders

Childhood Apraxia of Speech Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder. Children with CAS have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech. The child knows what he or she wants to say, but his/her brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words.

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders With OMD, the tongue moves forward in an exaggerated way during speech and/or swallowing. The tongue may lie too far forward during rest or may protrude between the upper and lower teeth during speech and swallowing, and at rest. Although a “tongue thrust” swallow is normal in infancy, it usually decreases and disappears as a child grows. If the tongue thrust continues, a child may look, speak, and swallow differently than other children of the same age. Older children may become self-conscious about their appearance.

Speech Sound Disorders: Articulation and Phonological Processes Most children make some mistakes as they learn to say new words. A speech sound disorder occurs when mistakes continue past a certain age. Every sound has a different range of ages when the child should make the sound correctly. Speech sound disorders include problems with articulation (making sounds) and phonological processes (sound patterns).

Stuttering Stuttering affects the fluency of speech. It begins during childhood and, in some cases, lasts throughout life. The disorder is characterized by disruptions in the production of speech sounds, also called “disfluencies.” Most people produce brief disfluencies from time to time. For instance, some words are repeated and others are preceded by “um” or “uh.” Disfluencies are not necessarily a problem; however, they can impede communication when a person produces too many of them.

Voice We have all experienced problems with our voices, times when the voice is hoarse or when sound will not come out at all! Colds, allergies, bronchitis, exposure to irritants such as ammonia, or cheering for your favorite sports team can result in a loss of voice. Learn more about different types of voice disorders.

Language Disorders

Language-Based Learning Disabilities Language-based learning disabilities are problems with age-appropriate reading, spelling, and/or writing. This disorder is not about how smart a person is. Most people diagnosed with learning disabilities have average to superior intelligence.

Selective Mutism Selective mutism (formally known as elective mutism) is a disorder that usually occurs during childhood. It is when the child does not to speak in at least one social setting. However, the child can speak in other situations. Selective mutism typically occurs before a child is 5 years old and is usually first noticed when the child starts school.

Medical and Developmental Conditions

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD is a condition of the brain that affects a person’s ability to pay attention. It is most common in school-age children.

Autism Autism is a developmental disability that causes problems with social skills and communication. Autism can be mild or severe. It is different for every person. Autism is also known as autism spectrum disorders .

Cleft Lip and Palate A cleft lip is an opening in the lip. A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth. The palate is made up of two parts-the hard palate and the soft palate. The hard palate is made of bone and is towards the front of your mouth. The soft palate is made up of muscle and tissue and is towards the back of your mouth. Most people have a piece of tissue hanging down from the back of their soft palate that can be seen when you open your mouth. This is called the uvula.

A child can have a cleft lip, cleft palate, or both. Clefts can happen on only one side of the face or on both sides. A cleft can go only part way through the lip or palate or all the way through. Sometimes there is an opening in the bony part of the palate that is covered by a layer of thin tissue. You may not be able to see this opening because it is covered. This is called a submucous cleft palate. A cleft palate leaves an opening between the roof of the child’s mouth and his nose.

You may also hear that your child has a craniofacial anomaly or craniofacial disorder. This means that there is a problem with your child’s head and face.

Right Hemisphere Brain Injury Right hemisphere brain damage is damage to the right side of the brain. The brain is made up of two sides, or hemispheres. Each hemisphere is responsible for different body functions and skills. In most people, the left side of the brain contains the person’s language centers. The right side controls cognitive functioning (thinking skills).

Damage to the right hemisphere of the brain leads to cognitive-communication problems, such as impaired memory, attention problems and poor reasoning. In many cases, the person with right brain damage is not aware of the problems that he os she is experiencing ( anosognosia ).

Traumatic Brain Injury Any injury to the head may cause traumatic brain injury (TBI). There are two major types of TBI:

Penetrating Injuries: In these injuries, a foreign object (e.g., a bullet) enters the brain and causes damage to specific brain parts. This focal, or localized, damage occurs along the route the object has traveled in the brain. Symptoms vary depending on the part of the brain that is damaged.

Closed Head Injuries: Closed head injuries result from a blow to the head as occurs, for example, in a car accident when the head strikes the windshield or dashboard

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