Early Childhood Special Education

Childhood Development Guide Resources

Birth - 2 Year Old Development

Most parents wonder at times if their child is growing and developing like other children the same age. If you are concerned that your child is growing or learning at a slower rate than other children, help is available through the Early Development Network and your local school district. Contact your local school superintendent or the Early Development Network (1-800-531-9316) if you would like more information.

All children develop at different rates. Here are some guidelines for you to see how your child is developing:

3 months

  • Lift head and chest when laying on stomach
  • Follow a moving object or person with my eyes
  • Grasp a rattle or finger
  • Wiggle and kick my legs
  • Smile back at people
  • Make cooing or babbling sounds
  • Cry in different ways to tell you what I need

6 months

  • Hold my head up and look all around
  • Recognize familiar faces and smile at you
  • Coo, giggle and make lots of sounds
  • Push up on my hands and knees
  • Roll from my back to stomach and from my stomach to back
  • Love to be held and cuddled
  • Search (look) for sounds and turn head towards sound

9 months

  • Sit up without much help
  • Begin to pull myself up and stand with help
  • Crawl or scoot myself forward
  • Use my thumb and finger together to pick up little things
  • Recognize and look for familiar people
  • Start to imitate and make sounds like real words (momma, dada)
  • Love to dump toys or things out of containers

12 months

  • Stand alone holding on to furniture
  • Walk along the furniture while holding on
  • Take beginning steps towards walking alone
  • Say a few meaningful words
  • Point to a few objects when asked to find them
  • Dance or bounce to music
  • Respond to own name
  • Want parents or caregivers to always be where I can see them
  • Show fear or anxiety of people I don’t know

18 months

  • Walk without help
  • Climb up and down on things
  • Stand up and sit down without holding on
  • Like to push, pull, and take things apart
  • Begin to show a “temper” when I can’t do something I want
  • Understand simple one step directions
  • Use more meaningful single words and gestures
  • Use words together
  • “Cling” to caretakers in new situations

2 years

  • Walk, run, and climb without help
  • Go up and down stairs without holding on
  • Love to use the word “no”
  • Have frequent temper outbursts, when I’m made, tired, or upset
  • Put two and three words together in simple sentences
  • Use about 50 words frequently
  • Sing songs or say rhymes
  • Feed myself and drink from a cup without a lid
  • Resist sharing my toys with other children

For additional information about infant and toddler development or activities to encourage your child’s development visit one of these websites:





3-5 Year Old Development

Most parents wonder at times if their child is growing and developing like other children the same age. If you are concerned that your child is growing or learning at a slower rate than other children, help is available through your local school district and Educational Service Unit #8. Contact your local school superintendent or Ruth Miller at ESU 8 (402)887-5041 if you would like more information.

All children develop at different rates. Here are some guidelines for you to see how your child is developing:

3 years

  • Jump up and down
  • Begin to pedal a riding toy
  • Throw a big ball and catch it
  • Sort two objects that match
  • Play with others and share toys sometimes
  • Talk in short sentences and try to tell you what I’m feeling
  • Ask what and why questions

4 years

  • Talk with words in sentences that can mostly be understood (75% of what is said)<
  • Draw simple circles and stick figure people
  • Match and name 3 or 4 colors
  • Climb up and down a slide by myself
  • Put together simple puzzles with 5 or 6 pieces
  • Follow simple two step directions
  • Use the toilet with just a little help

5 years

  • Can dress and undress myself without much help
  • Run, jump, skip, and climb with ease
  • Follow three step directions
  • Ask and answer who, what, when, and where questions
  • Play well with others in a group
  • Enjoy games and follow simple rules
  • Recognize my printed name
  • Name 3-6 colors
  • Can count a small group of objects

For more information about your child’s development and activities that you can use to encourage his/her development, visit these websites:

Importance of Tummy Time for Development

Development Guidelines for Communication

Guidelines from the American Speech-Language-Hearing-Association

Developmental Milestones for Communication

Every child is unique and has an individual rate of development. This chart from http://asha.org represents, on average, the age by which most children will accomplish the listed skills. Children typically do not master all items in a category until they reach the upper age in each age range. Just because your child has not accomplished one skill within an age range does not mean the child has a disorder. However, if you have answered no to the majority of items in an age range, seek the advice of an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist or audiologist.

Hearing and Understanding Talking
Birth-3 Months

  • Startles to loud sounds.
  • Quiets or smiles when spoken to.
  • Seems to recognize your voice and quiets if crying.
  • Increases or decreases sucking behavior in response to sound
Birth-3 Months

  • Makes pleasure sounds (cooing, gooing).
  • Cries differently for different needs.
  • Smiles when sees you.
4-6 Months

  • Moves eyes in direction of sounds.
  • Responds to changes in tone of your voice.
  • Notices toys that make sounds.
  • Pays attention to music.
4-6 Months

  • Babbling sounds more speech-like with many different sounds, including p, b and m. 
  • Vocalizes excitement and displeasure.
  • Makes gurgling sounds when left alone and when playing with you.
7 Months-1 Year

  • Enjoys games like peek-o-boo and pat-a-cake.
  • Turns and looks in direction of sounds.
  • Listens when spoken to.
  • Recognizes words for common items like “cup”, “shoe,” “juice.”
  • Begins to respond to requests (“Come here,” “Want more?”).
7 Months-1 Year

  • Babbling has both long and short groups of sounds such as “tata upup bibibibi.”
  • Uses speech or non-crying sounds to get and keep attention.
  • Imitates different speech sounds.
  • Has 1 or 2 words (bye-bye, dada, mama) although they may not be clear.
1-2 Years

  • Points to a few body parts when asked.
  • Follows simple commands and understands simple questions (“Roll the ball,” “Kiss the baby,” “Where’s your shoe?”).
  • Listens to simple stories, songs, and rhymes.
  • Points to pictures in a book when named.
1-2 Years

  • Says more words every month.
  • Uses some 1-2 word questions (“Where kitty?” “Go bye-bye?” “What’s that?”).
  • Puts 2 words together (“more cookie,” “no juice,” “mommy book”).
  • Uses many different consonant sounds of the beginning of words.
2-3 Years

  • Understands differences in meaning (“go-stop,” “in-on,” “big-little,” “up- down”).
  • Follows two requests (“Get the book and put it on the table.”).
2-3 Years

  • Has a word for almost everything.
  • Uses 2-3-word “sentences” to talk about and ask for things.
  • Speech is understood by familiar listeners most of the time.
  • Often asks for or directs attention to objects by naming them.
3-4 Years

  • Hears you when call from another room.
  • Hears television or radio at the same loudness level as other family members.
  • Understands simple, “who?,” “what?,” “where?,” “why?” questions.
3-4 Years

  • Talks about activities at school or at friends’ homes.
  • People outside family usually understand child’s speech.
  • Uses a lot of sentences that have 4 or more words.
  • Usually talks easily without repeating syllables or words.
4-5 Years

  • Pays attention to a short story and answers simple questions about it.
  • Hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school.
4-5 years

  • V oice sounds clear like other children’ s.
  • Uses sentences that give lots of details (e.g. “I like to read my books”).
  • Tells stories that stick to topic.
  • Communicates easily with other children and adults.
  • Says most sounds correctly except a few like l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, th. 
  • Uses the same grammar as the rest of the family.

Girl Talk - Guide to age appropriate sounds your daughter should be making

Boy Talk - Guide to age appropriate sounds your son should be making

Effects of Pacifiers and Sippy Cups on Speech Development

Do Pacifiers and Sippy Cups Cause Speech Delay?

Posted by Heidi | Filed under Early Language Development

People often ask me, “Should I use a pacifier with my child?”

As a speech pathologist and a new mom to my first child, I had resolved to never use a pacifier with my son. I didn’t want to have to worry about weening him off of it knowing the effects pacifiers can have on speech development. A few weeks after he was born he became a very fussy baby. He cried around the clock. All resolutions I had made previously were out the window. I just wanted some sleep! I tried everything, even pacifiers. I was so desperate to calm him. Unfortunately for me, they didn’t work either. It did however give me a new perspective on what mothers go through and how at times it’s just about survival.

Understand that pacifiers are perfectly appropriate for infants the first year of their life. They can also make life a lot easier on mom and dad at first. Don’t feel guilty if your baby loves the “binki”. Do however try to limit his or her use of the pacifier after 6 months of age and work toward weening them completely off the pacifier by 12 months. When you give your baby the pacifier try to always give a soft toy or blanket with it. This helps when it comes time to ween the baby off the pacifier. Your baby girl or boy will still have the comfort of the toy or blanket when the pacifier is taken away.

What about sippy cups?

I don’t recommend sippy cups because sippy cups can prevent the tongue from moving into a more natural position for speech development. Children suckle the sippy cup just like they would a pacifier or bottle. When it comes time to ween off the bottle try moving to a straw cup instead.

Why a straw cup?

As a mother I know we all like the spill proof cups so I recommend the spill proof straw cup as a transition cup from the bottle or nursing. This will help position your children’s tongue correctly for speech and give them the strength necessary to be more successful communicators. Of course before you introduce a straw cup you need to make sure your child can drink from a straw.

How do I teach my child to drink from a straw?
If your child is having difficulty learning to drink from a straw try using a Capri Sun or juice box to teach your child the concept of straw drinking. With a Capri Sun you can squeeze the juice up the straw to teach your child that this new tool is used for drinking. Before you know it your child will be suckling the straw and drinking on his/her own. The downfall with this approach is that you will have to hold the Capri Sun the whole time unless

you are o.k. with juice everywhere. Another less messy method would be to use a honey bear with a reusable plastic straw.

What straw cup do you like best?

My favorite cups are the “Munchkin” cups (shown above), which are sold at stores like Wal-Mart or Costco. You can also get these from Amazon.com.
I like these cups the best because of the shape of the straw and the location of the anti-spill mechanism. The shape of the straw promotes good lip rounding which is beneficial for the /w/ and “oo” sounds. The anti-spill mechanism is located inside the cup rather than in the straw itself so when you begin cutting the straw down, which I’ll explain below, you won’t cut it off.

If children learn to drink from a straw by suckling how is it different from a sippy cup?

A straw cup can be used as a tool to train the tongue into the right position. These are the steps you will want to follow.
Once you have purchased a straw cup allow your child several weeks to get used to the new cup. Keep in mind they are now drinking all their liquids from this cup. After the child is really comfortable with the new cup cut 1/4′′ off the top of the straw. This will make it so the child will have less straw to put in their mouth while drinking. A few weeks later, when your child is really comfortable drinking from this cup cut another 1/4′′ off the top of the straw. Every few weeks repeat this step until your child only has about 1/4′′ of straw left they can put in their mouth. This assures that they cannot suckle the straw and their tongues will be in the proper position for good speech development.

“Why have my other children done just fine on sippy cups?”

There are many children out there that can drink from sippy cups without affecting their speech. But, if you can set your children up for success from the beginning why wouldn’t you? If you have already gone the route of sippy cups and your child substitutes /t/ for /k/, /d/ for /g/, -th- for /s/ or /z/, or has a lateral lisp your child will benefit from moving their tongue back with the help of a straw cup. Excessive drooling can also be an indicator that your child needs the strengthening that can come from drinking through straws. As a rule, my children only use straw cups as opposed to sippy cups and I encourage my clients to do the same.

“What about drinking from a normal cup?”

Drinking from a normal cup will also promote appropriate tongue positioning. Introduce normal cups as soon as you feel your child is ready. If you want to teach your child to drink from a normal cup make sure they are not supporting the cup with their tongue. If they seem to lose a lot of fluid while drinking help them practice by giving them single sips while you hold the cup.


Development Guidelines for Vision

Indicators of Visual Impairments


Information for Families


 Ansers4Families When there is someone in your family with special needs, you may find yourself looking for answers.  Answers4Familes is Nebraska’s support and information connection for families and professionals seeking assistance

Born Learning

Born Learning provides easy, fun action steps that parents, grandparents and caregivers can use every day. Born Learning makes it simple and easy for parents, grandparents, informal caregivers and professional child care providers to find out about, understand and apply the latest research to help children come to school ready to succeed. The material helps parents make learning fun and take advantage of everyday moments.

Born Learning makes it simple and easy for parents, grandparents, informal caregivers and professional child care providers to find out about, understand and apply the latest research to help children come to school ready to succeed. The material helps parents make learning fun and take advantage of everyday moments.

Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning

Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning website provides training and resources for parents and childcare providers regarding behavior and social/emotional development of young children.

Early Childhood Interagency Coordinating Council

Early Childhood Interagency Coordinating Council was created to advise and assist the collaborating agencies in carrying out the provisions of the Early Intervention Act, the Quality Child Care Act, sections 79-1101 to 79-1104, and other early childhood care and education initiatives under state supervision [Section 43-3401, Neb.Rev.Stat.]. The ECICC is also identified by the governor as the State Early Learning Council to meet the federal requirements of the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act [December 2007, PR110-134].
This website includes information about legislation related to ECICC, members, committee and task forces of the ECICC, minutes of past meetings, and report to the governor on the status of early childhood in Nebraska.

Early Childhood Planning Region Team 8

Early Childhood Planning Region Team 8 Planning Region Team 8 is a local interagency council consisting of parents, special education providers, school district representatives, and community agencies that work together to discuss issues of regional concern related to services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.

Early Learning Childhood Partnership

 Early Learning Childhood Partnership Brochure & Website

Enhancing Language Skills through Play

Enhancing Language Skills through Play is a one-stop resource for Speech/Language Pathologists, Educators & Parents!

First Five Nebraska

First Five Nebraska is the new face of the early childhood policy work previously carried out at Nebraska Children and Families Foundation. As such, we have moved into new offices, expanded our staff and launched this new website. We’re particularly proud of the new website in its potential to advance the work of First Five Nebraska and that of our colleagues. We’ve laid out in greater detail the scientific, social and economic rationale for early investments to better educate policymakers and potential advocates. We’ve built upon some of the best features of our earlier web site by including district-by-district breakdowns of children at risk between the ages of 0 and 5, as well as the “contact your senator” email tool. The new First Five Nebraska site also incorporates our growing media campaign, which we hope becomes a touchstone for early childhood messaging throughout the state.


Healthychildren.org  The American Academy of Pediatrics (APA) has a website which was created to provide reliable, up-to-date information on child health and parenting issues.  It also provides information on the APA’s Many programs, activities, policies, guidelines, and publications.


InfantSEE  A public health program that is designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an essential part of infant wellness care to improve a child’s quality of life.  Under this program, participating optometrists provide a comprehensive infant eye assessment between 6 to 12 months of age as a no-cost public service.

Medline Plus

Medline Plus A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

Nebraska Department of Education

Nebraska Department of Education This link will connect you to a website that lists free early childhood publications from the Nebraska Department of Education. You can read these publications online, print them, or request copies from NDE.

Nebraska Foundation for Children’s Vision: See To Learn Program

 Nebraska Foundation for Children’s Vision The foundation seeks to ensure that every child entering school in Nebraska is visually ready to learn through expanding the SEE TO LEARN program in Nebraska.

Nebraska Office of Early Childhood

Nebraska Office of Early Childhood This link will connect you with the Office of Early Childhood website at the Nebraska Department of Education.

Nebraska Respite Program

Nebraska Respite Program  Created by the Nebraska legislature through the department of Health & Human Services.  The purpose of the Nebraska Respite Network is to provide a statewide system for the coordination of respite resources that serves all ages (across all lifespan.)

Nebraska Resource and Referral System (NRRS)

 Nebraska Resource and Referral System (NRRS) The Nebraska Resource and Referral System Direct Service Database contains information about community agencies and organizations that provide services to Nebraskans.  This website is a valuable tool, connecting Nebraskans to the services and resources they need via the internet.  The NRRS content staff continuously reviews the site for accuracy and timeliness.

Nebraska Special Needs Transportation Guide

NESIIS - Nebraska State Immunization Information System

 NESIIS is a secure, web-based system that allows health care providers to keep track of immunizations.

Parenting Counts

Parenting Counts Parenting Counts is a research-based resource site developed to support parents and caregivers in raising socially and emotionally healthy children.


ZERO to THREE The mission of ZERO to THREE is to promote the health and development of infants and toddlers.

Professional Development

Below are useful resources for preschool staff members and daycare providers in search of additional information and/or trainings in the surrounding areas involving early childhood education