Communication Milestones

12-24 Month Communication Milestones

Posted on
November 10, 2022
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Being aware of the developmental communication milestones for your child is the first step in making an informed decision. Regarding whether or not a speech and language assessment is warranted. Note to parents: view all age milestones with caution. It's important to look at your child’s progression and holistic development rather than looking at their age as a primary factor of “lagging in development.”

After the first 12 months of a child’s life, language starts to develop more rapidly. A child should be able to produce single words by 12 months, while two word phrases are expected to be produced as the child is at the 24 month mark.

What communication milestones to expect:

Expressive  Language Receptive Language Play Attention and Listening  Speech sounds
One word utterance but can put two words together (ie. want more) Two-word phrases should emerge later in this stage Understands Familiar Words and Phrases Follows simple commands/directives Points to pictures Understands no Symbolic/Pretend Play Turn taking at 18 months Self directed Not always understood by familiar and unfamiliar listeners

Play and attention are important to review during this time, as it's a way communication manifests in the younger years. While attention isn’t flexible, a child during this time should be able to look at you and show signs of listening. By using both body language and/or words. When pretend play is exhibited and you will see your child play dress-up, pretend to be the teacher, or even use a banana as a microphone to speak to you. Play is rooted in symbols for children during this time. This is their way of starting to experiment with the art of play.

Understanding familiar words and phrases should be looked at, but be analysed based on the child's daily routines. Exposure to words in the form of being read to, or being around peers during the day v.s. a grandparent who may be watching them, will have an affect on their ability to understand words and phrases. If your child is having difficulty demonstrating an understanding of common words and phrases that are often presented to them - this is a sign that a speech and language assessment should be administered.

While more sounds should be acquired during this time, numerous factors can affect sound acquisition.  An understanding of sound letter correspondence is often correlated with the correct sound production and sound acquisition. If your child isn’t part of a day program that is teaching alphabet sounds, or isn’t exposed to these sounds at home during the day - delayed acquisition can occur. If your child is having difficulty acquiring these sounds, it can be more difficult to understand them, especially when these specific sounds are found in the words that they are producing i.e. their name.

Important: Your child should have an updated audiological assessment or hearing screening to determine if an audiological impairment is present. This will show an impact on all milestones.

  1. Speech and Language Developmental Milestones | NIDCD
  2. CDC’s Developmental Milestones | CDC
  3. ASHA Developmental Norms for Speech and Language
  4. Speech Milestones
  5. Speech Pathology Australia
Sharon Baum
Clinical Director, United States and M.A. CCC-SLP
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