Milestones of Early

Communication Development

12-18 months

  • Average expressive vocabulary of 50-100 words by 18 months
  • Use of single words to name items, actions, locations, possession, to reject
  • Words are understood outside of routine games.

18 -24 months

  • Words are used more often than gestures to communicate
  • Words are used to request information, answer questions, and to acknowledge other people’s communication attempts
  • Understands single words for objects that are out of sight
  • Use of two-word utterances
  • Consistent word order
  • Speech is 50% intelligible
  • 70% of consonants are produced correctly
  • CVC and two-syllable words emerge

24-30 months

  • Engages in symbolic play
  • Talks about objects that are not present
  • Narratives are mostly labels and descriptions
  • Understands and uses basic Wh- questions (Who, What, What doing, Where going)
  • Emerging use of verb + ing, in, on, plural /s/
  • Use of “no, not, can’t, don’t”

30-36 months

  • Use of language in play increases
  • Narratives are sequences with a theme, but no plot
  • Uses and understands Why questions
  • Understands and uses basic spatial terms (in, on, under)
  • Be verbs are used inconsistently
  • Overgeneralizes past-tense verb forms
  • Speech is 75% intelligible.

36-42 months

  • More flexible making requests (Can you…? / Would you…?)
  • Increased use of indirect requests
  • Narratives have a theme and some organization
  • Understands basic color words
  • First complex sentence forms appear
  • Use of irregular past tense verbs, articles (a, the), and possessive /s/

42-48 months

  • Uses language to report on past events, reason, predict, express empathy, create imaginary roles
  • and props, and maintain interactions
  • Uses and understands When & How questions
  • Understands words for basic shapes (circle, square, triangle)
  • Uses and understands basic size vocabulary (big, small)
  • Uses conjunctions “and, because” to conjoin sentences.

48-60 months

  • Narratives are chains with some plot, but no high point or resolution
  • Knowledge of letter names and sounds emerges
  • Knowledge of numbers and counting emerges
  • Use of conjunctions (when, so, because, if)
  • Speech is at least 80% intelligible, with some errors remaining on the latest developing sounds /s, r, l/ and ‘th’

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