When should I refer my child to a Speech Pathologist?

Please find below typical communication developmental milestones. For further information please visit the Speech Pathology Australia website (click here). If your child shows skills below their age level, they may benefit from and an assessment with a speech pathologist. Children develop at different rates, so if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.

At 12 months old, most children can:

  • Understand between 3-50 words (mostly names of familiar people and objects)
  • Communicate with adults (without words) to:
    • request things (pointing, grabbing)
    • refuse things
    • play games
  • Gesture and vocalise to gain an adult’s attention
  • Babble (make sounds to imitate adult speech)
  • Say their first word

At 18 months old, most children can:

  • Understand up to 50 words, including some two-word phrases
  • Use between 6-20 words (mostly familiar objects, people and actions) – note, it may not be easy to understand your child, but their speech should be growing more consistent and easier to understand.
  • Follow simple instructions (e.g. ‘drop the toy’)
  • Engage in pretend play (e.g. cooking on a toy stove)

At 2 years old, most children can:

  • Follow two-part instructions (e.g. ‘give me the book and the bear’)
  • Understand some location words like ‘in’ and ‘on’
  • Say some two-word phrases (e.g. ‘daddy there’)
  • Use their tone to ask questions (e.g. ‘dinner?’)
  • Use most vowels and several consonants including m, n, p, b, t, d, k, g

At 3 years old, most children can:

  • Follow more complex instructions
  • Answer ‘wh-’ questions, including ‘what’ and ‘where’
  • Sort objects into categories
  • Use four- or five-word sentences
  • Start to use some grammar, such as ‘-ed’
  • Be understood by their parent/carer 100% of the time

At 4 years old, most children can:

  • Answer simple questions about a story they have been told
  • Understand some numbers and count to five
  • Use joining words such as ‘and’ or ‘but’ to make their sentences longer
  • Describe recent events

At 5 years old, most children can:

  • Follow three-part instructions
  • Understand time-related words such as ‘before’ and ‘later’
  • Tell simple stories with a beginning, middle and end
  • Be understood by an unfamiliar listener 100% of the time (although they may still have trouble with ‘r’ and ‘th’ sounds).

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