Last week I had the privilege of speaking about my wonderful job to a captivating audience made up of preschool teachers and daycare staff members. I presented information on the disorders Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) target, why early intervention is so important and of course, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library! There are many people who are aware that SLPs work with children who have difficulty producing a specific sound. However, our scope of practice encompasses much more than that! We provide assessment and treatment for individuals ranging from infants through geriatrics in a variety of settings. We offer services for those whose speech, language, cognition, fluency, hearing, voice or swallowing abilities are affected.
While sharing this information in detail, I gave examples of specific developmental milestones adults should listen for. Because I primarily work with little ones, I wanted to share a few simple, yet valuable facts with you:
® The sounds that children typically first develop are /p, m, h, n, w/. Children should be able to produce these sounds correctly in all positions in conversation by the age of three.
® A one year old child should be using vocabulary up to 6 words (other than mama and dada) and by the age of two, their expressive vocabulary drastically increases to 200-300 words.
® Children should be using 2-3 word utterances at two years old, communicating their wants and needs purposefully and more independently.
® By age three years old, your child should be consistently using the pronouns your, she, he, we, my, me, I and it correctly in conversation.
® At four years old, we should be able to understand at least 75% of their speech.
References: Lanza, J.R., & Flahive, L. K. (2008). Guide to Communication Milestones. East Moline, IL: LinguiSystems, Inc.
Another piece of information that is critical to a child’s development is literacy. Children develop literacy skills long before they are able to read (just as we develop language skills before we begin speaking). This is why the Dolly Parton Imagination Library is such a priceless tool families can use to facilitate growth and development.
The point of sharing a few specific facts is this. There are certain “red flags” that children can present where professionals can identify but may be overlooked by others; therefore, I would strongly encourage you to always ask questions. Speech, language and communication are the foundation to learning. Early signs of difficulties in these abilities are a very significant predictor of later literacy difficulties. Asking a professional about your concerns is extremely important because the earlier you address your child’s weakness the sooner progress can be made!
Happy first few weeks of school!