Child Intelligibility Guidelines

Intelligibility Guidelines


Can you understand what your child is saying?

Does your child speak clearly?

Do you have to translate your child’s speech to others?

This is called intelligibility. The term intelligibility refers to how much a listener can understand the speaker. In typical development, as children learn to talk, their comprehensibility to those around them steadily increases.

In young children there is often quite a marked difference between understanding:


  • Single words vs. conversational speech
  • Known conversational topics vs. unknown conversational topicsParents and close family members are usually experts at understanding their own child’s speech attempts. We have seen many parents “translate” even the most unintelligible efforts made by their children! With regard to families, siblings may sometimes be more adept than parents in comprehending what their little brothers and sisters are saying! Unfamiliar listeners, on the other hand, are often unable to decipher a young child’s speech.
    Approximate Age Percentage of 
    Understood by Parents
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    18 months A typical child is 25% intelligible.
    2 years A typical child is 50-70% intelligible.
    3 years A typical child is 80% intelligible.
    4 years A typical child is 90% intelligible.