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Typical speech, language and communication development

Children’s speech, language and communication develops from the moment they are born.

Infants can copy the facial expressions of parents or caregivers and vocalise, from as young as a few weeks. They can learn to ‘take turns’ with parents /carers who respond to them and pause after each interaction (‘early turn taking’).

Babies tune into the speech sounds of those around them. They are able to recognise the speech sounds specific to the predominant language they hear in their environment by their end of their first year of life.

They begin to babble from six months in order to prepare for later speech and develop joint attention with their parents, such as focusing on a shared object. From eight months, they may begin to show they understand single words such as ‘mummy’, ‘ball’ and ‘bye bye’ and they may start to use gestures such as waving to signal intentional communication (i.e. ‘goodbye’).

At around the age of a year, their first spoken words begin to emerge. By two years, children may begin to link words such as “want juice” (to mean “I want juice”). Their ability to both learn words (acquire ‘vocabulary’) and say words (‘spoken language’) continues to develop rapidly in these early years. At three years, children can speak in sentences for a range of different functions, including to greet others, to make requests, to refuse a request and to check their understanding / seek clarification. They can also learn several new words a day!

As they grow and mature so too do their speech, language and communication skills. These skills often develop alongside others such as attention, thinking, social & emotional skills. By the age of five years, children are able to speak in complete sentences as well as demonstrate joint attention (such as listening to an adult talk whilst also colouring a picture); by seven years, a child can demonstrate empathy, through their behaviour and words, and from eleven years, children / young people are able to increasingly understand more abstract and less literal language and concepts and develop increasingly complex social skills.



Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN)

cute boy at the park with sister behindIt’s not surprising that given all this development, children and young people may sometimes struggle with one or more areas of speech, language and communication. For some children the problem may be short term and require very little intervention; for others some additional input may help address the area of difficulty, whilst for others, the difficulties may be more persistent in nature and require more regular and long term support.

You may be a parent/carer, teacher or other educational professional concerned that your child, or a child you work with, has particular difficulties with:

  • attention and listening – your child struggles to concentrate
  • understanding of language – your child finds it hard to make sense of what you or others are saying
  • unclear speech – your child finds it hard to produce specific speech sounds
  • bumpy speech – your child repeats or stumbles over their words
  • talking – your child finds it hard to learn or remember new words or put sentences together
  • a lack of confidence in their communication – finds it hard to socialise with other children or young people of their age

The assessment and therapy I offer through talk4life is tailored to the individual needs of your child/young person.

At talk4life, I recognise the importance of parents, teachers and other professionals who are involved with your child, in supporting their SLC development. Alongside the direct sessions, therapy also often involves parents or teachers regularly practising skills/ activities / strategies with your child as this is likely to ‘generalise’ their skills into everyday life and help them to progress.