Typical Development

What is "normal" articulation? When should my child be saying specific sounds?

What should my child be saying and understanding?

Other people can't understand my child. Is that typical?

What can I do to help my child?

What is "normal" articulation? When should my child be saying specific sounds?

typical sound development chart

What should my child be saying and understanding?

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has charts outlining typical speech language milestones for children.


Other people can't understand my child. Is that typical?

A basic formula for figuring out how much of your child's speech a stranger should understand is to divide your child's age by 4 (up to age 4). For example:
2 years old = 2/4 or 50%
3 years old = 3/4 or 75%
4 years old = 4/4 or 100%
These numbers reflect how much of your child's speech a stranger should understand. Typically parents (and often family members) understand much more of what their child says.

(research: Researchers, Coplan, J., & Gleason, J. R. (1988). Unclear speech: Recognition and significance of unintelligible speech in preschool children. Pediatrics, 82, 447-452, Roulstone, S., Loader, S., Northstone, K., & Beveridge, M. (2002). The speech and language of children aged 25 months: Descriptive data from the Avon longitudinal study of parents and children. Early Child Development and Care, 172, 259-268. Flipsen, P., Jr., (2006). Measuring the intelligibility of conversation speech in children. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 20 (4), 303-312.)

What can I do to help my child?


Wrap Text around Image 1. Encourage all attempts to communicate. Even if you don't understand everything your child says you can still promote language growth by picking up on key words or facial expressions.
2. You don't have to make your children repeat every mispronounced word. You can repeat the word back to them emphasizing the correct sounds.
3. To help your child speak in longer sentences, repeat back the word they say and add 1-2 more words. For example, if your child says "dog" you can say, "black dog" or "big black dog"
4. Read to and with your child. You don't have to read all the words in the book. In fact, you can just talk about the pictures and follow your child's lead. Visit your local public library for many great picture books.
5. Often we play with children as though they are on a game show, "What color is that?", "What do you have?". Questions are good.Keep asking them but balance them with comments and more indirect questions such as, "My car is a big green car", "I wonder what animals we will see". These strategies will provide models for your children and can also encourage longer sentences then one word answers.
6. Be patient. Allow your child enough time to express their thoughts without interrupting them.


7.Use picture to help show schedules. This website: http://www.boardmakershare.com/default.aspx has many schedules and projects parents and professionals have already completed. It's also free!
8. Break directions into simple steps. For multiple step directions state the entire direction, "Get your shoes, then go to the door" then break it into each step, "Go get your shoes", "Go to the door".
9. Allow enough processing time. When you ask a question make sure to give your child enough time to think about the question then think of an answer.
10. Give your child notice that you are going to give them directions"Listen, I'm going to tell you something."
11. Emphasis key question words, "Where are we going?" After the answer you can re-emphasize the key word, "To the park. That's where we are going."
12. Turn off background noise such as televisions or radios.

Social skills

Wrap Text around Image 13. Set up play dates
14. For older children give the "why" of social skills and be explicit. For example, instead of saying "Look at me when you're talking" you can say, "Point your eyes [explicit] at me so I know to listen [why]"
15. Play simple turn-taking games.Focus on "my turn", "your turn".
16. Set up activities so that your child has to ask for help or pieces. For example, if you are both working on an art project, have just one glue stick that has to be shared.
17. Give your child the words to say to start conversations, "Say, 'Hello, my name is___"
18. Help your child recognize emotions. You can play games looking in the mirror and making different faces. "This is a happy face. You try."


19. Life is therapy! You can practice language and speech skills anytime by talking about what is happening.
20. Have fun! When working on goals make sure that you and your child are still enjoying it. For some parents it's easier to set up 15 minutes a day to focus on speech rather than trying to pay attention to your child's speech the whole day. Find what works for your family.