Language Milestones for Children with Down Syndrome (Birth to Five)

Birth to five years of age is a critical period for language development for all children. Each child progresses at his or her own rate, and each presents with his or her own strengths or weaknesses. The same applies to children with Down syndrome. However, children with Down syndrome tend to develop language skills at a slower rate than their typically developing peers. This blog will aim to answer questions regarding language development in children with Down syndrome by comparing language milestones to those of their typically developing peers.

While the milestones above are based on general trends, it is important to note that language development will vary for both typically developing children and children with Down syndrome. Speech therapy is recommended for children with Down syndrome, starting younger than one year of age to target feeding and oral-motor skills and after 15- to 18-months of age to target speech and language skills. Common early speech and language targets for children with Down syndrome include verbal turn taking, vocabulary acquisition, use of simple signs and gestures, following simple routines-based directions, use of age-appropriate speech sounds, and more.

Questions or concerns?

If you have questions about language development in children with Down syndrome, please contact us at or 773-332-9439.

Jill Teitelbaum, MS, CF-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

Reference: Layton, T. (2004). Developmental Scale for Children with Down Syndrome.

Photo Credit: yulia84 via

Employee Spotlight: Kelly Scafidi

What do you love most about being a social worker?

I love being able to help families navigate through difficult situations and stressful times, while providing comfort, support, and education about their child.

What is your favorite children’s book?

As a child it was Corduroy by Don Freeman, but now it’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss and The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister.

What do you enjoy most about living in Chicago?

I love that Chicago has something for everyone. For me, it’s the summer season- filled with long days of warm weather and sunshine. I like to take advantage of those days by spending them at the dog beach.

What is your favorite childhood memory?

Spending my summers at my family’s cottage in Wisconsin on the lake.

Mountain or beach vacation?

Both, one vacation is never enough!
Share a proud “therapy moment” with one of your clients.
There are so many wonderful moments that can happen during each and every therapy session. A favorite memory was watching a client who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, initiate a social, play interaction with a new therapist.

What is your hometown?

Chicago, Norwood Park.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to be active, by running, biking, or practicing yoga. I enjoy traveling to new countries and learning about different cultures. When I’m not working, I usually enjoy spending time with my family and friends.

What is your favorite therapy toy?

Myself: I like to be as creative as possible and use songs, silly gestures, and whatever toys the child already has.

Share a fun fact about yourself!

I used to play the piano and Irish dance.

Kelly Scafidi, MSW, LCSW, DT
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Developmental Therapist

Sensational September: Family-Friendly Events This Month!

Family Festival: Swedish American Museum

Time:September 7th, 11am-4pm

Location:5201 N Ashland Ave


About:This year marks the 50thanniversary of Swedish-American Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon. The festival will honor him and his culture, and will include face painting, crafts, games, raffles, and Swedish food. Some items will have a fee, but most is free!

Low-Sensory Early Exploration: Museum of Science and Industry

Time:September 8th, 8:30am-12pm

Location: 5700 S Lake Shore Dr

Cost:Free, preregistration required

About:The museum will offer the featured exhibits with additional accommodations for sensory needs: having fewer crowds and designated quiet spaces. It includes access to Farm Tech, the Idea Factory, and Circus exhibits.

Minecraft Party

Time:September 14th, 5:30pm-8pm

Location:Power Up Tech Academy, 2867 N Clybourn Ave


About:An opportunity for kids ages 7-12 to meet other players and play on either private or public servers. The event includes supervision during the playing time.

Fall Fest: Lincoln Park Zoo

Time:Beginning September 27th

Location:2001 N Clark St

Cost: Free entry, attractions require tickets

About:A festival for the whole family, with attractions including a corn maze, a pumpkin patch, professional pumpkin carvers, animal chats, a Ferris wheel, and bounce houses.

Kristen McManus, MOT, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Photo Credit: Jugendweihebb via Pixabay