There are two areas we address when evaluating a child's language abilities: receptive and expressive.
Receptive language is the child's ability to understand what is communicated to him by others, either spoken or gesture. If a child is demonstrating difficulty understanding what is said, following directions, answering questions, etc. then there may be a receptive language disorder or delay. A speech-language evaluation would be necessary to determine whether or not the child needs therapy.
Expressive language is the child's ability to express himself or communicate with others. A few of the areas that are assessed when looking at expressive language are: using age appropriate vocabulary, putting words together into phrases/sentences, applying appropriate word endings and using appropriate pronouns. Obviously there are many more attributes that contribute to expressive language. These are just a few of the things a speech-language pathologist would evaluate.
Here is a small list of the typical developmental norms for receptive and expressive language skills.
Birth to 6 Months
- Makes different cries to communicate different needs (e.g.. hungry vs. wet)
- Responds to familiar voices or sounds by turning or looking and/or smiling
- Coos with vowel-like sounds
- Explores new sounds and may produce some consonants
7 to 12 Months
- Shows an understanding of the meaning of words
- Learns language of daily routines, such as "time to eat" or "time for bed"
- Babbles with consonant and vowel combinations
- Imitates sounds made by others
13 to 24 Months
- Produces first words and meaningful sound combinations
- Follows a variety of basic directions
- Recognizes common objects and their uses
- Uses at least 50 - 100 words by 24 months
- Uses most vowels and some consonants [ p, m, h, n]
2 to 3 Years
- Puts words together to expand their meaning
- Uses sentences/phrases of 3 or 4 words by the age of 3
- Has a vocabulary of 300 to 500 words by the age of 3
3 to 5 Years
- Follows a series of 2 - 3 part directions
- Uses approximately 600 to 1600 words, depending on the exposure to words
- Talks about recent events and experiences
- Uses sentences of increasing length and complexity
This is just a quick overview of how to follow your child's development. For more information, please visit: