Communication at Different Stages of a Child’s Growing Years | SPD - Singapore

Communication at Different Stages of a Child’s Growing Years



Communication, through speech and language, not only allows us to express our needs and wants but also to understand what is expected of us. In addition, communication enables us to make sense of our surrounding. It facilitates the sharing of information, and develops friendships, play and the use of imagination. In simpler terms, communication is the exchange of messages and meanings. It uses all our senses, although we often focus on language and speech because they help to convey the most complex of meanings. SPD’s speech therapist Shruti Pandit explains how a child communicates at different stages of his/her life.


Children learn to communicate soon after birth - through facial expressions and the sounds and cries that they make. Soon, children learn words by linking the sounds they hear to objects they see. Gradually, they learn to control the sounds they make, experimenting with making sounds and beginning to associate meanings to them.

At two years old, children pick up words very quickly and they start producing immature phrases. With more exposure to different environments and languages, and more human contact, communication begins to shift into a more matured form.

As the child grows up, the purpose of communicating also changes. While wants and needs were the primary objective of communication during infancy, social interaction and sharing of information take greater importance during elementary years. Eventually, social interaction, social etiquette and the sharing and exchanging of information are what would generally drive communication as the child grows into his teenage years and beyond.

The role of the speech therapist changes with the age of the client and his communication needs. SPD supports children of all ages and at all levels of communication through our Early Intervention Program for Infants and Children (EIPIC), Continuing Therapy Programme as well as other services that the SPD Therapy Hub supports including primary and secondary schools that have students with special needs. The speech therapist offers therapy and advice that are individualised for the child who has difficulties in communicating.

Some general strategies to help the child communicate better include:

• Creating “teachable moments”
• Waiting expectantly
• Communicating with the children at their language level
• Using visual aids such as body language, pictures, photos, calendars and drawings
• Prompting toward independence

In summary, speech therapy can help children learn to communicate effectively with greater confidence.