Speech and language concerns with children ages zero to three are addressed through Huron Valley 's Early Intervention Program. If you have concerns about your child's speech and language development, the first step is evaluation. Please contact Nikki Schneider, M.A., CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Pathologist at 248-676-8349 to request a speech-language evaluation. Children who are found to have speech and language delays that qualify them for special education may participate in Early Intervention parent and tot language-based classroom groups.

What can parents do to help at this age?

  • Have your child's hearing evaluated or request a hearing evaluation when you speak to Mrs. Schneider.
  • Request a loan copy of It Takes Two to Talk from Mrs. Schneider. It is an excellent book that provides valuable information for parents learning to encourage speech-language development.
  • Strictly limit the amount of time your child spends watching television, videos, and playing on the computer.
  • For children 9 months and older, try to limit pacifier use to nap and bedtime.
  • Read to your child every day.
  • Make sure your child spends lots of time playing with toys.
  • Schedule play dates with other children who provide good language models.
  • Reinforce your child's attempts to communicate.
  • Teach your child sign language to give them a way to communicate until the words come.

Huron Valley Schools has a program for preschool children, three to five years of age, who are experiencing difficulty communicating. The identified children have difficulty being understood and are at risk for self-esteem issues as a result of their unintelligible speech. These children are served at one elementary school but they come from throughout the district. Housing this program at one location allows children to be grouped with their peers and an age appropriate approach to be utilized.

Communication skills are a key to success in school. Listening and speaking provide the foundation for reading and writing. The goal of speech therapy for preschool children is to increase intelligibility and reduce frustration when communicating. They need to feel good about communicating so that their language development will not be inhibited by the difficulty they are having with sounds. A variety of materials and techniques are used during therapy to maximize the chances of the child internalizing these new skills. Books, games, manipulative toys, and art projects that target each of the sounds are appropriate and motivating for this age group. Parents participate in a home program in which word lists, literature, and activities involving the targeted sound are emphasized. Student progress has been excellent and parent feedback very favorable.

If parents suspect that their child is having difficulty with listening or speaking, it is advisable to see a Speech/Language Therapist for an evaluation. There is a wide range of normal in speaking accuracy during the preschool years. An evaluation would determine whether or not some extra help in this area would be beneficial prior to kindergarten. If you have questions or would like to schedule an evaluation, please call or e-mail Sharon Hengtgen, Speech/Language Therapist (248) 676-8488.

The Preschool Speech/Language Program is designed primarily for children who are having articulation (sound) errors in their speech. If parents have concerns with physical, social-emotional, and/or intellectual development; they should contact The Play and Learn Program (PAL) at (248) 684-8019.

Communication Disorders


Children who are difficult to understand or have difficulty saying the sounds expected for their age may need help.

Approximate age at which consonant sounds should be made correctly:

 AGE (years)                SOUNDS IN ERROR (circled)                  
 3.0  /m/ /p/ /w/
 3.5  /n/ /b/ /d/ /k/
 4.0  /g/
 4.5  /t/
 5.0  /y/
 5.5  /f/ /v/ /ch/ /th/ (voiceless)
 7.0  /sh/ /j/ /zh/
 8.0  /r/ /l/ /s/ /z/ /ng/ /th/ (voiced)








Children whose understanding or use of language is not at the expected level would qualify for services in the area.

How Does Your Child Hear and Talk?

Every child is unique and has an individual rate of development. This chart represents, on average, the age by which most children will accomplish the listed skills. Children typically do not master all items in a category until they reach the upper age in each age range. Just because your child has not accomplished one skill within an age range does not mean the child has a disorder. However, if you have answered no to the majority of items in an age range, seek the advice of an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist or audiologist. Use Find a Professional External Link, ASHA's online directory of speech-language pathologists and audiologists to locate a practitioner near you.

Hearing and Understanding


Birth-3 Months


  • Startles to loud sounds.
  • Quiets or smiles when spoken to.
  • Seems to recognize your voice and quiets if crying.
  • Increases or decreases sucking behavior in response to sound.

Birth-3 Months


  • Makes pleasure sounds (cooing, gooing).
  • Cries differently for different needs.
  • Smiles when sees you.

4-6 Months


  • Moves eyes in direction of sounds.
  • Responds to changes in tone of your voice.
  • Notices toys that make sounds.
  • Pays attention to music.

4-6 Months


  • Babbling sounds more speech-like with many different sounds, including p, b and m.
  • Vocalizes excitement and displeasure.
  • Makes gurgling sounds when left alone and when playing with you.

7 Months-1 Year


  • Enjoys games like peek-o-boo and pat-a-cake.
  • Turns and looks in direction of sounds.
  • Listens when spoken to.
  • Recognizes words for common items like "cup", "shoe," "juice."
  • Begins to respond to requests ("Come here," "Want more?").

7 Months-1 Year


  • Babbling has both long and short groups of sounds such as "tata upup bibibibi."
  • Uses speech or non-crying sounds to get and keep attention.
  • Imitates different speech sounds.
  • Has 1 or 2 words (bye-bye, dada, mama) although they may not be clear.

1-2 Years


  • Points to a few body parts when asked.
  • Follows simple commands and understands simple questions ("Roll the ball," "Kiss the baby," "Where's your shoe?").
  • Listens to simple stories, songs, and rhymes.
  • Points to pictures in a book when named.

1-2 Years


  • Says more words every month.
  • Uses some 1-2 word questions ("Where kitty?" "Go bye-bye?" "What's that?").
  • Puts 2 words together ("more cookie," "no juice," "mommy book").
  • Uses many different consonant sounds of the beginning of words.

2-3 Years


  • Understands differences in meaning ("go-stop," "in-on," "big-little," "up-down").
  • Follows two requests ("Get the book and put it on the table.").

2-3 Years


  • Has a word for almost everything.
  • Uses 2-3-word "sentences" to talk about and ask for things.
  • Speech is understood by familiar listeners most of the time.
  • Often asks for or directs attention to objects by naming them.

3-4 Years


  • Hears you when call from another room.
  • Hears television or radio at the same loudness level as other family members.
  • Understands simple, "who?," "what?," "where?," "why?" questions.

3-4 Years


  • Talks about activities at school or at friends' homes.
  • People outside family usually understand child's speech.
  • Uses a lot of sentences that have 4 or more words.
  • Usually talks easily without repeating syllables or words.

4-5 Years


  • Pays attention to a short story and answers simple questions about it.
  • Hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school.

4-5 years


  • Voice sounds clear like other children's.
  • Uses sentences that give lots of details (e.g. "I like to read my books").
  • Tells stories that stick to topic.
  • Communicates easily with other children and adults.
  • Says most sounds correctly except a few like l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, th.
  • Uses the same grammar as the rest of the family.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association External Link


Children whose rhythm of speech is disrupted, such as stutterers, can receive help in this area. Parents should be aware that children between the ages of two and six years often repeat words, syllables, and sounds. This is not considered stuttering but rather normal non-fluent speech. This often occurs because children are learning to put their thoughts into conversational speech. More information can be obtained from "The Stuttering Foundation" External Link.


Children sometimes develop a hoarse voice, often because they abuse their voice by yelling, making noises, etcetera. They may need help to change their vocal habits and strengthen their voice.

Further Information

Any difficulties in these areas must effect the child educationally in some way in order to qualify them to receive Speech/Language services.

For more information regarding any of the following disorders or speech and language development, please see the information provided by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) External Link.

It is important to rule out hearing loss as a contributing factor when there is a speech/language concern. The Oakland County Health Department provides hearing screening free of charge to four year old preschool children, kindergarten and second grade students. If your child is of this target age and is not enrolled in a school program in which hearing screening is provided, you can contact the Hearing and Vision Department at 248-424-7070. Appointments are available in Pontiac and Southfield.

If you have a concern about hearing and your child does not fall into the target age screened by the health department, please contact the Speech/Language Pathologist at your local elementary school.

Speech and Language services are available in the school setting for those students Kindergarten through 12th grade who demonstrate an articulation, language, voice or fluency disorder based on formal and informal assessment and the disorder directly impacts the student's education. Referrals for evaluation are accepted from parents, teachers, child study teams, students and physicians. If you feel your child may have difficulty with speech or language skills, you are encouraged to contact your child's teacher or counselor or the speech-language pathologist at your child's school to express your concern.

Once a referral is made, a parent/guardian must complete a permission to test and questionnaire(s). Following that, the speech-language pathologist will contact the student's teacher to arrange for an appropriate time to evaluate the student. Thereafter, the speech-language pathologist will contact you to review the results of testing and let you know if therapy is indicated.


  • Create a positive attitude about speech by avoiding ridicule and criticism.
  • Looking at each other's eyes while speaking helps communication.
  • Be a patient listener. Allow your child the time he needs to complete the expression of his thoughts.
  • Help your child with articulation by pronouncing words correctly, not as he or she says them.
  • Reading aloud to your child develops vocabulary and listening skills, as well as an interest in books. Having your child retell the story helps develop expressive language skills.
  • Help your child with language development by talking about an activity as you are doing it. Do this during activities such as cooking, shopping, gardening, and etcetera.
  • Help a child who stutters by being patient and not saying the word he is stuck on for him.
  • Encourage your child not to yell or abuse his voice by excessive clearing of the throat or by making noises that strain his vocal cords.


  • Referrals for Speech and Language services come from teachers, parents, and doctors.
  • An evaluation is done after consent from parents.
  • If appropriate a meeting is held to develop a plan of intervention.
  • Therapy is provided with progress reported three times a year.
  • Meetings are held annually to review the plan and update it.