While many parents have a long list of questions after receiving their child’s diagnosis of autism, we want to help make your search for answers less stressful. Here are the most frequently asked questions regarding your child’s speech and language therapy:
Question: What are some critical early speech and language milestones for young children?
- 0 to 3 months:
- Smiling at familiar faces
- Crying differently for different needs
- Calming or smiling when spoken to
- 4 to 6 months:
- Babbling with different sounds (e.g., “mamamama” or “bababa”)
- Vocalizing excitement and displeasure
- Moving eyes in the direction of sounds
- 6 months to 1 year:
- Using speech to get your attention
- Using gestures to communicate (e.g., waving, clapping, pointing)
- Imitating different speech sounds
- Using one or two words consistently and appropriately
- Enjoying games like peek-a-boo
- 1 year to 18 months:
- Shaking head “no;”
- Using 25 words
- Communicating needs with single words
- Pointing to objects when named
- Following simple one- and two-step directions (e.g., get your shoes, sit down, give me, come here)
- 18 months to 2 years old:
- Using 50-200 words
- Responding to “yes/no” questions
- Asking, “what’s that?”
- Naming common objects
Question: At what age should my child start speaking?
Answer: All children learn at a different pace. Typical speech and language development begins with cooing and babbling before progressing to the imitation of environmental sounds (e.g., moo, baa, beep beep). Speech and language development then moves on to single words (e.g., eat, ball, more), phrases (e.g., want ball), and sentences (e.g., I want the ball).
Talk with your pediatrician if your child is not making attempts to vocalize. If your child is already receiving ABA therapy services, speak with your team about your concerns. Continue to monitor vital signs of speech and language delays or difficulties may include a lack of making eye contact, smiling, laughing, and engaging socially.
Question: What are the ways to improve my child’s speech and language skills?
Answer: For children 0-12 months old:
- Respond to your child’s coos and babbling
- Keep vocabulary simple and consistent
- Match your child’s language with activities (e.g., “Shoes on”)
- Look at and explore with picture books. Label the images, take your child’s hand and point to pictures as you name them, and implement ABA therapy best practices by being consistent as well as repetitive
- Tell nursery rhymes, sing songs, and play simple games together, such as peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake. Model and repeat to help ensure learning of new skills through your child’s ABA therapy goals
Children ages 12 months-24 months:
- Reward and encourage efforts to say new words. Utilize positive rewards your child’s ABA therapy team establishes for long-lasting results.
- Ask your child to “show me” if something is unclear
- Talk to your child about what you’re doing
- Encourage play with other children
- Describe what your child is doing
- Go on trips (e.g., visit the zoo, go on a walk, start a garden)
Question: What are excellent toys for children working on speech and language skills?
Answer: The best toys to promote speech and language are simple toys that allow them to be creative while playing. Consider using toys that do not make sounds, as these toys encourage children to use their imagination when attempting to make the sounds. Some of our favorite suggestions are:
- Play food
- Farm set
- Baby doll and dollhouse
- Potato Head
- Blocks and legos
For additional resources and services for your child and family, visit us today.