Arizona Literacy & Learning Center

Improving Literacy in Arizona Since 1987

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How do I know if my child has delays in speech and/or language skills?

How do I know if my child has delays in speech and/or language skills?

Numerous sources have outlined expected development in speech and language skills at different ages.  Below is a brief summary of typical language development at one year intervals.  Data has been compiled from a variety of sources.

One year of age:  Child responds to simple spoken requests, uses simple gestures, makes sound with changes in speech, says “mama” and “dada” and exclamations like “uh-oh,” and tries to say words.  Child uses approximately two to six words.   “Red flags” include inability to point to objects, lack of using single words such as “mama” or “dada,” and inability to use gestures such as waving or shaking head.

Two years of age: Child points to things or pictures that are named, knows names of familiar people and body parts, says sentences containing two words, and follows simple instructions.  Child has a vocabulary of at least fifty words.   Child’s speech should be 50% to 75% understandable to others.   “Red flags” include decreased interest in social interaction, vocabulary of less than fifty words, lack of two word phrases, and inability to follow simple instructions.

Three years of age: Child follows two step instructions, talks well enough to be understood most of the time, uses pronouns and plurals, and has a vocabulary containing two hundred words.  Child’s speech should be 75% to 100% understandable to others.   “Red flags” include lack of simple sentences, unclear speech, inability to follow simple instructions, and lack of pretend play.

Four years of age: Child has a vocabulary of approximately 1600 words, tells stories, sings songs from memory, knows some basic rules of grammar, and can say first and last names.  “Red flags” include lack of pronoun use, inability to follow three step directions, unclear speech, and inability to retell a favorite story.

Five years of age:  Child speaks very clearly, tells simple stories using full sentences, uses future tense, and states name and address.  Child uses sentences that are at least four words in length. Child’s speech should be 100% understandable to others.   “Red flags” include inability to provide first and last name, inability to use plurals or past tense properly, and inability to retell stories or experiences.
If you have additional concerns about your child’s speech and language development, please contact ALLC.