Parenting

Does my child need speech therapy?

A checklist of milestones your child should be reaching from ages one to five.

By The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada Ltd.

Does my child need speech therapy?

Does my child need speech therapy?

Your child and speech

Parents often find it difficult to determine if their child is speech delayed. We all know the story of “Cousin Johnny” who didn’t say a word at age two but suddenly spoke in full sentences at age three. But is that the norm? “Speech therapy for toddlers and children is not uncommon,” explains Jeanette Podolsky, a Speech-Language Pathologist and the Clinical Director at The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada Ltd. “Knowing the milestones can help in early detection of a speech delay.”

“Knowing what to look for can make a huge difference in a child’s language development,” explains Podolsky. “If you are concerned, ask your doctor, child’s teacher or caregiver. Or consult a speech-language therapist in your area."

Here are key milestones your child should be reaching.

Does my child need speech therapy?Photo: mikkelwilliam/istock

At 12 months

Your child should be able to:

• Anticipate events (for example, a cup or bottle means getting a drink)

• Begin imitating sounds, words and actions

• Recognize his or her name

• Show interest in simple picture books

• Follow simple directions

• Point out objects of personal interest to an adult (for example, a favourite toy)

Does my child need speech therapy?Photo: ZekaG/istock

At 18 months

Your child should be able to: 

• Use at least 15 words

• Enjoy solitary play

• Have a limited sense of sharing

• Ask simple questions such as "What's that?"

• Pretend to feed a doll

• Recognize pictures when named 

• Refer to him or herself by name 

Does my child need speech therapy?Photo: swalls/istock

At 2 years

Your child should be able to:

• Follow simple directions

• Put toys away upon request

• Understand new words rapidly

• Use at least 50 different words consistently

• Use two-word phrases such as "mommy up" or "baby sleep"

• Be understood 50 percent of the time by familiar people 

Does my child need speech therapy?Photo: oneclearvision/istock

At 3 years

Your child should be able to: 

• Enjoy make-believe play

• Follow two-step commands

• Use three- to four-word sentences

• Understand the difference between pictures and print

• Play in groups with other children 

• Share toys for short periods of time

• Understand simple questions such as "Who?" , "What?" , "Where" and "Why?"

• Be understood 75 per cent of the time by familiar people

Does my child need speech therapy?Photo: iEverest/iStock

At 4 years

Your child should be able to:

• Ask a lot of questions

• Categorize objects (for example, understand that an apple is a fruit)

• Use four- to five-word sentences

• Use complex sentences

• Match some letters with the sounds they represent 

• Play and take turns in playing with others

• Enjoy role playing

• Tell stories with a beginning and an end

• Be understood 90 percent of the time by familiar people

Does my child need speech therapy?

At 5 years

Your child should be able to: 

• Follow game rules

• Discuss feelings

• Follow three-step commands

• Use proper grammar 90 percent of the time

• Use complex sentences and maintain variety in vocabulary

• Show interest in group activities 

• Speak clearly 90 to 100 percent of the time

Does my child need speech therapy?

More milestones for your kids

Does my child need speech therapy?

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