KathyAnn provides a full range of services for children with speech, language and oral-motor disorders. Below are some popular Q&A’s. If you have a question that’s not addressed in this forum, please contact KathyAnn

Q: My son is 17 months old and isn’t talking yet.  My daughter was speaking in sentences at his age. Is this normal?
Boys’ speech and language development, in general, is usually slower than girls.  Therefore, it is not uncommon for you to see a difference in their language milestones.  However, by 17 months of age your son should be verbalizing some words (although they may not be clear), such as: “mama”, “dada”, “hi”, “bye”, “baba”, “ju”/juice, “ba”/ball.  If you have any concerns regarding your child’s speech and language development you should contact a speech-language pathologist who can conduct an evaluation to determine if there is a speech/language delay/disorder.

Q: My daughter is 14 months old and has had frequent ear infections.  Should I be concerned about her speech?
YES! Chronic ear infections as a result of fluid in the middle ear can affect your child’s hearing sensitivity.  If your child is not hearing speech clearly she will likely have a hard time imitating sounds accurately because what she may be hearing is distorted/muffled.  It is a good idea to consult with your pediatrician who may recommend an audiological evaluation.  This will determine at what level your daughter is/is not hearing.

Q: My son is 2 years old and speaks in single words inconsistently and often plays with the same toys.  Should I be concerned?
By age 2 children should begin combining words and learn new words on a daily basis.  If you feel your child’s vocabulary is not expanding and becoming more complex then consulting a speech-language pathologist is a good idea.

Regarding play skills – children may be drawn to one particular toy, however, how they play with that toy is important.  For example, if your child lines up the trains only and does not make them move or expand on his play schema there is cause for concern.  Children learn through play. They use their knowledge and language during play. A child may set up train tracks, line up the trains, make them go, crash them, have them fall down and use language to narrate these actions.  It should vary and be imaginative.  You want to see your child exploring new ways to play and using new words during that play.

A speech-language pathologist works to facilitate language through play and can demonstrate simple tasks which parents can implement to maximize a child’s speech and language skills. If you have any concerns regarding your child’s overall development consult your pediatrician.

Q: What is oral motor therapy?
Oral motor therapy targets the oral musculature responsible for speech production, which includes the tongue, lips, and jaw. Precise movement and coordination of the articulators is required for accurate pronunciation.  When there is difficulty in this area oral motor therapy may be warranted.  Oral motor therapy may involve using certain tools, such as horns, whistles, straws, bubbles to help in facilitating specific oral postures for specific sounds.  This is usually done in fun and creative ways and kids really enjoy it.


0-3 mo Startles to sound Cooing
Seems to recognize your voice and quiet if crying Cries differently for different needs
Smiles when sees caregiver
3-6 mo Recognizes own name Laughs
Stops crying when spoken to Attempts to interact with an adult
Notices toys that make sound Takes turns vocalizing
Babbling starts
6-12 mo Listens when spoken to Uses gesture to communicate
Start of responding to requests (e.g. come here) Imitates different speech sounds
Understands words for familiar objects (e.g. book, juice, bottle) 1 or 2 words around 1st birthday
Gives object upon verbal request Vocalizes a desire for a change in activity
12-24 mo Points to some body parts Puts 2 words together
Points to identify pictures in a book Produces a variety of consonants at the beginning of words
Follows simple directions (e.g. give kiss; sit down) Begin to ask questions (e.g. “Where cat?”)
Attends to simple stories, songs and rhymes Vocabulary increases every month
24-36 mo Responds to simple questions Uses action words
Follows 2-step related commands Asks for help
Listens to stories for longer periods of time Responds to greetings consistently