As a speech pathologist, one of the top three questions I receive from parents is, “When will my kid start talking?”

I wish I could tell you a specific time frame, but I just cannot. Every child develops at his/her own rate of speed and there are several variables as to how fast they learn to communicate. These variables will impact their development and ability to retain and utilize information quite significantly. 

The Variables in Speech Developmental Milestones

  • The first variable is the disorder/syndrome that your child has been given as a diagnosis. Children, for example, who are diagnosed with speech or language delay will typically learn to communicate faster than a child who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. 
  • Severity level of the diagnosis will be given the same day. You might hear things like “mild, moderate, severe, high-functioning, or low-functioning.” Mild and high-functioning diagnoses are better than moderate, severe or low-functioning. Typically, you will hear high and low functioning severity levels when discussing Autism Spectrum Disorder. You will hear mild or moderate when discussing things like articulation (how sounds are produced) issues. 
  • A huge contributing factor as to when children successfully communicate is when they started receiving intervention. The earlier = the better. This is why it’s so important to trust your gut and get your child screened. If there is nothing wrong, great! But if there’s something that can be treated, you want to get that squared away as fast as you can.
  • Exposing your child to new environments where they can practice communication skills is very important. When a therapist teaches you strategies or techniques, you NEED to work on these items at home. You are with your child way more than the SLP will be. Giving the therapist feedback on what your child is/is not doing in the home environment will only expedite the communication process. 

Suggestions to Help Your Child Reach Speech Milestones

  • Check with your speech pathologist and they should be able to give you a developmental milestone list. If you are currently waitlisted, please check out Speech Blubs website. I have written a blog about speech milestones and when to worry. This may be helpful until you get into your first appointment. 
  • Create a picture chart for your child if they have limited vocabulary skills and are getting frustrated. Make it simple – only three or four words depending on their understanding level. They, of course, need to be able to point to the objects that they need.
  • Narrate everything that you are doing with your child. Talk about what you are cooking for dinner, the process, the different utensils and objects you will  need to set the table. If you do this consistently, your child will begin to understand the words and correlate them correctly. 
  • Get your child into a speech pathologist or specialist as soon as possible. Your pediatrician should have a list of professionals that they can give you on the spot. Shop around and make sure you are persistent. 
  • Trust your gut. If you feel like your child should be progressing further than they are, seek help.

Back to the original question that started this whole blog: “When will my kid start talking?” Instead of looking at what your child isn’t doing, look at what they can do.

  • Are they pointing, gesturing or taking you to what they want?
  • Are they babbling?
  • Are they interacting with you socially (smiling, laughing)?

These are all signs that things are heading in the right direction. Your child WILL communicate! 

I’ve written a blog with many useful games, books and toys that can aid in speech and language development at home. Please read that at your earliest convenience!

Feel free to download the Speech Blub app too. These games are phenomenal, fun AND target speech and language skills!

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