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Communication check list

For Children from Birth to Age 4

If the answer to any of the following questions is NO, call theNHU Preschool Speech and Language Reception at 519-426-6170 Ext.3243 to refer your child for a speech assessment or use the online referral form at

By 6 Months

Does the child . . .

  • Turn to the source of sound?
  • Startle in response to sudden, loud noises?
  • Make different cries for different needs? (For example,“I’m hungry” or “I’m tired.”)
  • Watch your face as you talk?
  • Smile and laugh in response to your smiles and laughs?
  • Imitate coughs or other sounds? (For example, “ah,” “eh,”“buh.”)

By 9 Months

Does the child . . .

  • Respond to his/her name?
  • Respond to the telephone ringing or a knock at the door?
  • Understand being told “no?”
  • Get what he/she wants through gestures? (For example, reaching to be picked up.)
  • Play social games with you? (For example, peek-a-boo.)
  • Enjoy being around people?
  • Babble and repeat sounds? (For example, “babababa,” “duhduhduh.”)

By 12 Months

Does the child . . .

  • Follow simple one-step directions? (For example, “Sit down.”)
  • Look across the room to something you point to?
  • Consistently uses three to five words?
  • Use gestures to communicate? (For example, waves “bye bye,” shakes head “no.”)
  • Get your attention using sounds, gestures and pointing while looking at your eyes?
  • Bring you toys to show you?
  • “Perform” for attention and praise?
  • Combine lots of sounds as though talking? (For example, “abada baduh abee.”)
  • Show interest in simple picture books?

By 18 Months

Does the child . . .

  • Understand the concepts of “in and out,”“off and on?”
  • Point to several body parts when asked?
  • Use at least 20 words consistently?
  • Respond with words or gestures to simple questions? (For example,“Where’s teddy?” or “What’s that?”)
  • Demonstrate some pretend play with toys? (For example, gives teddy a drink or pretends a bowl is a hat.)
  • Make at least four different consonant sounds? (For example, p, b, m, n, d, g, w, h.)
  • Enjoy being read to and looking at simple books with you?
  • Point to pictures using one finger?

By 24 Months

Does the child . . .

  • Follow two-step directions? (For example, “Go find your teddy bear and show it to Grandma.”)
  • Use 100 to 150 words?
  • Use at least two pronouns? (For example,“you,” “me,” “mine.”)
  • Consistently combine two to four words in short phrases? (For example,“daddy hat,” “truck go down.”)
  • Enjoy being with other children?
  • Offer toys to peers and imitate other children’s actions and words?
  • Speak in a way that people can understand his/her words 50% to 60% of the time?
  • Form words and sounds easily and effortlessly?
  • Hold books the right way up and turn the pages?
  • “Read” to stuffed animals or toys?
  • Scribble with crayons?

By 30 Months

Does the child . . .

  • Understand the concepts of size (big/little) and quantity (a little, a lot, more)?
  • Use some adult grammar? (For example,“two cookies,” “bird flying,” “I jumped.”)
  • Use more than 350 words?
  • Use action words? (For example, run, spill, fall.)
  • Take short turns with other children, using both toys and words?
  • Show concern when another child is hurt or sad?
  • Combine several actions in play? (For example, feed a doll, then put her to sleep; put blocks in a train, then drive the train and drop off the blocks.)
  • Put sounds at the start of most words?
  • Produce words with two or more syllables or beats? (For example,“ba-na-na,”“com-pu-ter,”“a-pple.”)
  • Recognize familiar logos and signs? (For example, McDonald’s golden arches, stop signs.)
  • Remember and understand familiar stories?

By 3 Years

Does the child . . .

  • Understand “who,” “what,” “where” and “why” questions?
  • Create long sentences, using five to eight words?
  • Talk about past events? (For example, trip to grandparents’ house, day at childcare.)
  • Tell simple stories?
  • Show affection for his/her favourite playmates?
  • Engage in multi-step pretend play? (For example, cooking a meal, repairing a car.)
  • Have a beginning interest in rhyming? Is he/she aware of rhyming?

Is the child . . .

  • Understood by most people outside of the family, most of the time?
  • Aware of the function of print? (For example, in menus, lists or signs.)

By 4 Years

Does the child . . .

  • Follow directions involving three or more steps? (For example,“First get some paper, then draw a picture, last give it to mom.”)
  • Use adult-type grammar?
  • Tell stories with a clear beginning, middle and end?
  • Talk to try to solve problems with adults and other children?
  • Demonstrate increasingly complex imaginative play?
  • Match some letters with his/her sounds? (For example,“Letter T says ‘tuh.’”)

Is the child . .

  • Understood by strangers almost all of the time?
  • Able to generate simple rhymes? (For example,“cat-bat.”)

Please keep this Checklist for your own records. If you answered NO to the questions, then you can refer any child for a Speech Assessment . . .

  • If you are concerned about his/her speech/language/hearing development.
  • If her/his speech and language skills have not improved over the past six months.
  • Who often repeats sounds and/or words (stuttering).
  • Whose voice sounds different/odd to you.
  • Whose play or social interaction seems inappropriate.
  • With a diagnosis such as cleft lip/palate, hearing loss, PDD/autism, developmental delay (who is not receiving services).

Don’t wait, it’s never too early to get help!

Call the HNHU Preschool Speech and Language reception at 519-426-6170 Ext.3243 or register online at

Children starting Junior Kindergarten in the fall must be referred by the end of June in the year they will start JK in order to access assessment and treatment services. Don’t delay, call or register online today! 

Source: Government of Ontario

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