The following is a list of frequently asked questions on the topic of Speech-Language Services:


What is a speech or a language disorder?

Sometimes a delay may be caused by a hearing loss, while other times it may be due to a speech or language disorder.  A person who has trouble producing speech sounds correctly, has problems with his or her voice, or hesitates/stutters when talking may have a speech disorder.

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.


When should I contact a Speech-Language Pathologist?

When parents first see signs that their child’s communication development may be delayed, they are often told by others “don’t worry, he/she will probably grow out of it”. But a “wait and see” approach means that precious time can be lost during this critical learning phase.  It’s so important not to wait.  If a child with a delay receives extra support from the important adults in his/her life, he can make significant gains. Early language intervention is critically important for these children to develop the communication skills necessary for future success in their academic and personal lives.

At-risk or high risk (NICU babies, chronic ear infections, premature babies) should be evaluated early and regularly.   Also if a parent has any concerns regarding their child’s ability to listen, understand, communicate and play with others they should contact a Speech-Language Pathologist.


What Is an Evaluation?

Evaluations may include a parent interview, number of standardized tests, observations, developmental checklists, and a collection of a speech and language sample.  Initial evaluations range in length from 1-2 hours and can be divided over multiple sessions depending on the age of the child and the severity of his/her disorder. When the evaluation is completed all standardized tests are scored and a written report is delivered to the parents and referring agency/physician.  Recommendations are then made as to whether or not speech-language services are warranted.


What Is Speech-Language Therapy?

Speech-language therapy will vary on the type and severity of a specific disorder. With very young children, therapy very often takes the form of parent counseling and language intervention activities to help enable and support child development. The SLP will interact with a child by playing and talking, using pictures, books, objects or everyday events to stimulate language development.  The level of play is age-appropriate and related to the child’s specific needs. The therapist might also model correct pronunciation and use repetition exercises to build speech and language skills.

The rate at which children reach their speech and language milestones varies, depending on each individual, their genes, and their environment.  Some children will develop certain speech-language milestones quicker than others.  However, despite a bit of difference between children, we expect most children to develop certain skills within a certain time-frame. The information below is just a general guideline to speech-language milestones.  Many experts vary considerably as to what they consider to be “normal” stages of development.


  • Reflexive crying sounds when hungry or uncomfortable
  • Coos in response to caretakers voice
  • Responds to sound by head turning, stilling, startling

4-6 months

  • Engages in vocal play
  • Puts sounds together
  • Raspberries/squealing

  6-11 months

  • Babbles
  • Localizes sounds with more accuracy
  • Starts to enjoy music/singing and will appear to listen more to conversations of others
  • May recognize a couple of words by localizing objects when named
  • May stop an activity when hears the word “no-no” or her/his name is called

By 12 months

  • Babbles with changes in tone – e.g. dadadadadadadadada
  • Uses gestures like waving “bye bye” or shaking head for “no”
  • Responds to her/his name
  • Communicates in some way when she/he needs help with something

By 15 months

  • Understands and responds to words like “no” and “up”
  • Says one or two words
  • Points to objects or pictures when asked “Where’s the…?
  • Points to things of interest as if to say “Look at that!”  and then look right at you

By 18 months

  • Understands simple commands like “Don’t touch”
  • Uses at least 20 single words like “Mommy” or “up”
  • Responds with a word or gesture to a question such as “What’s that? or “Where’s your shoe?”
  • Points to two or three major body parts such as head, nose, eyes, feet

By 24 months

  • Says more than 100 words
  • Consistently joining two words together like “Daddy go” or “ shoes on”
  • Imitates actions or words
  •  Pretends with toys, such as feeding doll or making toy man drive toy car

By 30 months

  • Says more than 300 words
  • Uses action words like “run”, “eat”, “fall”
  • Uses some adult grammar, such as “two babies” and “doggie sleeping

3-4 years 

  • Asks questions by 3 years
  • Uses sentences (e.g., “I don’t want that” or “My truck is broken”)  by three years
  • Is able to tell a simple story by four or five years