What is Normal Language Development?
While the process of learning to talk follows a predictable sequence, the age at which children say their first word may vary widely from one child to another. Developmental guidelines describe specific behaviors and delineate the age at which most children demonstrate this language skill. This type of information helps parents and physicians anticipate normal physical and cognitive growth. While physical maturation is easy to observe, cognitive development is less obvious. Fortunately, children’s language development provides one indication that their cognitive abilities are developing normally. In the below table, we present the average ages for language development. While most children demonstrate language skills well within the normal age range, some do not. If a child’s language is delayed more than two months past the upper age limits, caregivers should seek medical guidance, as delays may indicate problems (Shevell, 2005; Copeland & Gleason, 1993). Early identification of potential problems leads to appropriate intervention. While helpful, developmental guidelines are not perfect. To determine norms, data must be collected on specific populations. In most cases these data were collected on middle-income Caucasian children born in modern industrial-technological societies. Since this sample does not represent the world’s population, the upper and lower age limits of these “universal” norms must be interpreted carefully (Cannella, 2002).
Typical Language Development
About 90 percent of children will develop the following language skills by the ages indicated. If a child does not demonstrate these behaviors by these ages, it is important for parents to seek medical guidance.
|Age in Months|
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