ASHA Shares New Resources on Developmental Milestones With Families This National Speech-Language-Hearing Month

Milestones From ASHA Can Help Parents and Caregivers Track Their Child’s Development in Areas of Communication and Feeding and Swallowing

April 29, 2024

A multimedia version of this press release is also available.

(Rockville, MD) A child’s first word or their first time eating from a spoon are events that most parents and caregivers eagerly anticipate—just two of the many developmental milestones that babies are expected to meet in their first year of life. But knowing exactly when specific milestones should occur, and whether delays in achieving them are cause for concern, can be challenging for families. To help them, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is providing a series of new resources—just in time for National Speech-Language-Hearing Month, which is recognized each May in the United States.

What to Expect: Tracking a Child’s Development

Developmental milestones are behaviors or skills that most children meet within a certain age range. These milestones provide a roadmap of what to expect as children grow—and by doing so, they can help parents and caregivers feel comfortable and confident about how their child is progressing.

Milestones can also serve to alert families about a potential developmental delay or disorder in their child. Missing one milestone in an age range doesn’t necessarily mean that the child needs an evaluation. However, if a child lacks several skills, is not learning new ones, or is losing skills that they once had, ASHA encourages families to consult with the child’s pediatrician and visit an ASHA-certified audiologist or speech-language pathologist for an evaluation.

ASHA Milestones and Resources

Last fall, ASHA issued new communication milestones for children ages birth to 5 years, and new feeding and swallowing milestones for children ages birth to 3 years. These milestones provide the age ranges when a majority (at least 75%) of children demonstrate particular skills.

The fact that each child develops differently, even within the same family, is a key point that ASHA stresses. Skills develop over time—not on a child’s exact birthday. Consequently, ASHA’s milestones are provided in ranges, e.g., “4 to 6 months,” “2 to 3 years.”

Besides online checklists broken down by age—which were first released in November 2023—ASHA is now providing additional resources to guide families and for use by allied professionals. They include printable handouts by age as well as quizzes on communication and feeding development. ASHA also has videos that feature experts speaking on communication and feeding development.

Finding Help

The earlier a potential developmental delay or disorder is addressed, the better. Although professional help is valuable at any age, the ideal time window is during the brief period of life when the brain is most flexible (birth to 3 years).

Families who have questions about their child’s communication or feeding development should trust their instincts and seek an evaluation from an audiologist or speech-language pathologist immediately. Audiologists are professionals who diagnose and treat hearing and balance disorders. Speech-language pathologists work with people who have problems with speech, language, thinking, and swallowing.

An evaluation doesn’t necessarily result in intervention or treatment. Often, families learn from an evaluation that their child’s development is on track. Having this confirmation can help end unnecessary stress. However, if a child is found to have a delay or disorder, families can learn more about their options and set their child on a helpful path. Intervention is not one-size-fits-all, and families’ preferences ultimately drive the approach to care.

Families can connect with their state’s early intervention program for an evaluation, ask their child’s pediatrician to recommend a local professional, or search the national ASHA ProFind database to locate a certified audiologist or speech-language pathologist.

For more information on ASHA’s developmental milestones, and tips about what can be done at home to encourage a child’s development, visit ASHA’s website.

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 234,000 members, certificate holders, and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology assistants; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) identify, assess, and treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders.

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