(A Schedule of Listening, Receptive Language & Auditory Memory Skills)

The following scale was compiled from approximately 50 existing developmental scales for children with normal hearing. Please keep in mind that the milestones in this scale represent just averages. Some children are more advanced and others will attain some of these milestones at later ages. This scale represents attainable developmental guidelines for children with impaired hearing who are being immersed within the auditory-verbal approach.

Both hard-of-hearing and deaf children must first become aware of sounds; they must then attend to those different sounds. Once a listening attitude is developed, they learn to recognize the sounds, to "know" their meaning (eg., sound-object association). Finally, they can then react appropriately to the multitude of words they hear…they learn to understand our spoken language.

Knowing language and using language is not the same. Normally hearing children typically understand far more than they say. Children with hearing losses should be given that same due consideration. With that in mind, this scale on the development of audition, auditory memory, and language comprehension is offered.

Ellen A. Rhoades, Ed.S., Cert. AVT


  • Exhibits startle reflex in response to sudden loud noises; will stiffen, quiver, blink, screw eyes up, fan out fingers and toes, or cry as a response.
  • Sensitive to a wide range of sounds, including prosodic and rhythmic cues
  • Recognizes and prefers mother's voice; quiets if crying.
  • Sounds of different frequencies have different effects on the infant.
  • Low frequency sounds and rhythmic sounds have a calming effect.
  • Higher frequency sounds result in a more violent reaction.
  • Increases or decreases sucking in response to sound.

Three Months

  • Awareness of human speech; attends to voice.
  • Shows excitement at sound of approaching footsteps, running bath water, etc.
  • Awakens or quiets to sound of mother's voice.
  • Vocally responds to mother's voice.
  • Imitates own noises as he hears them - egs., ooh, baba
  • Begins to localize sound by means of turning eyes toward the general sound source.
  • Begins to enjoy sound-making toys; listens to a bell near him.
  • Listens to music.

Four Months

  • Localizes sound by turning head toward general source of sound.
  • Searches for human voice.

Five Months

  • Localizes sound more specifically.
  • Distinguishes between friendly and angry voices, and reacts appropriately.
  • Reacts to music by cooing or stopping his cry.
  • Very interested in human voice.
  • Discriminates between sounds of strangers and familiar people.

Six Months

  • Specifically locates sound anywhere such as the bell that is rung out of sight (downward localization develops before upward localization).
  • Responds to human speech by smiling or vocalizing.
  • Turns immediately to mother's voice across the room.
  • Shows evidence of response to different emotional tones of mother's voice.
  • Responds to baby hearing tests at one and a half feet from each ear by correct visual localization, but may show slightly delayed response.
  • Association of hearing with sound production is now evident, in that he repeats selected heard sounds.

Eight Months

  • Turns head and shoulders toward familiar sounds, even when he cannot see what is happening.
  • Begins to understand words in context.
  • Responds to a telephone ringing, a human voice, his own name, "no-no," "bye-bye".
  • Enjoys games like pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo.
  • Looks at Daddy and other family members when named.
  • Raises arms when mother says, "Come up" and reaches toward child.
  • Responds more discriminatingly to adult verbalizations.
  • Listens with selective interest; an increase of a "listening attitude" to conversation.
  • Understands a few gestures and words for common items.
  • Responds when called to or when gestured to, such as “Come here,” “Want more?”.

One Year

  • Jabbers in response to human voice.
  • Apt to cry when there is thunder.
  • May frown when scolded.
  • Enjoys listening to sounds and words.
  • His sound imitations indicate that he can hear the sounds and match them with his own sound production.
  • Responds to simple commands (at first, responds only when command is accompanied by gesture), such as giving a toy on request or going some place as directed.
  • Understands an assortment of action words (verbs) such as "drink", "go", "come", "give", as well as some simple directions such as "wave bye bye"
  • No real understanding of questions is shown.
  • Interested in environmental noises beyond his immediate surroundings.
  • Likes jingles and rhymes.
  • Begins to recognize twelve or more objects when he hears the names of them.
  • Understands about 50 words.


One-and-a-Half Years

  • Echoes prominent or last word addressed to him.
  • Understands about 150-200 words.
  • Understands simple sentences.
  • Knows his/her own name.
  • Begins to understand prepositional phrases, but within the total unit, such as putting something in or on something.
  • Begins to follow directions and short series of commands such as "Wipe the doll's nose."
  • Identifies simple pictures from names, e.g., finding a baby in a picture when asked to do so.
  • Points to own nose, ears, mouth, etc on request.
  • Points to objects when named.
  • Looks at correct picture as it is named'.

Two Years

  • Shows interest in the sounds of radio or TV commercials.
  • Listens to reason of language.
  • Listens to simple stories.
  • Responds to command, “Show me the --
  • Understands and answers simple “wh” questions, e.g., “Where is your --?”
  • Responds to yes/no questions by shaking or nodding head.
  • Waits in response to “just a minute
  • Identifies five body parts.
  • Understands family names by selecting appropriate pictures.
  • Understands the phrase, “have candy after lunch”
  • Carries out 4 separate directions with a ball, egs., “Give it to me.” “Put the ball on the block.”
  • Repeats two numbers, letters, or words.
  • Follows a direction with two critical elements.
  • Comprehension of vocabulary increases to an average of 300 words.
  • Responds differentially to directions involving prepositions: in, on, under.
  • Understands some action words by selecting appropriate pictures.
  • Understands the syntactic order of words when context, semantics, and prosody are coherent.

Two-and-a-Half Years

  • Enjoys listening to simple familiar stories read from a picture book.
  • When he hears pleasurable sounds, he reacts to them by running to look or by telling someone what he hears.
  • Responds to descriptive or locative information about things from pictures such as "Show me the one that is up in the sky."
  • Enjoys hearing and listening to songs.
  • Distinguishes between "one" and "many"
  • Identifies object by use: brush is for hair; spoon is for mouth.
  • Understands approximately 500 words.
  • Follows simple directions, egs., "Sit here," "Bring it to me"
  • Follows a series of two related commands, e.g., "Pick up the ball and give it to me."
  • Understands and responds to "what/where" questions, eg, "What do you hear with?"
  • Understands "one" and "all"
  • Understands prepositions: in, on, under, in front of, in back of, around.
  • Understands "just one block" and can respond appropriately when instructed to "give me just one block."
  • Understands differences between sentences varying in syntax: "Show me the car pushing the truck" vs. "The truck is pushing the car."
  • Understands gross size difference: big, little
  • Understands conjunction: and
  • Understands variety of verbs, including concept of polar opposites: come-go, run-stop, give-take, push-pull, up-down
  • Comprehends nearly all sentence structures.

Three Years

  • Carries out commands using two different prepositions.
  • Responds to two unrelated commands, e.g., "Put your cup on the table and turn off the TV"
  • Listens eagerly to stories and demands his favorite ones over and over again.
  • Identifies the use of things in pictures such as "Show me the one you wear."
  •  Answers simple questions (who, what, where?) and replies appropriately with a word or gesture.
  • Begins to match simple sound tones.
  • Recognizes several melodies.
  • Understands approximately 900 - 1,200 words.
  • Knows "big/little" and "in front of/behind"
  • Knows third-person pronouns, e.g., he/she.
  • Understands "more", e.g., "more cats"
  • Understands regular past tense forms of verbs.
  • Understands articles: a, the
  • Remembers three items of a story.
  • Recalls three numbers, letters, or words.
  • Follows a direction with three critical elements.
  • Repeats only first, second, or third item of a series.
  • Imitates a 5-7 syllable sentence based on short-term recollection.
  • Understands taking turns.
  • Understands most common adjectives.
  • Shows an interest in explanations of why and how.

Four Years

  • Pays attention to short stories and answers simple questions about them.
  • Listens to long stories.
  • Carries out, in order, a command of three parts such as "Pick up the ball, put it on the table, and bring me the book."
  • Carries out four separate commands using different prepositions: in front of, beside, behind.
  • Knows "between/above/below/top/bottom"
  • Follows a four-step command; a direction with four critical elements.
  • · Carries out more complex commands with 2-3 actions.
  • Understands and replies appropriately with a word or gesture to questions such as "What do you do when you are sleepy?" "Which one is bigger?"
  • Comprehends time phrases: all the time, all day, for two weeks.
  • Understands irregular plurals, e.g., child/children.
  • Understands possessives: dog’s.
  • Understands approximately 1500 – 2500 words.
  • Understands the number three, e.g., "Give me three"
  • Imitates a 12-syllable, 9-word sentence, based on short-term recollection.
  • Remembers four items of a story.
  • Repeats two numbers backwards.
  • Recalls four numbers, letters, or words.
  • Identifies four colors.
  • Understands dependent clause: if, because, when, why
  • Hears and understands most of what is said at home and school.

Five Years

  • Loves stories.
  • Comprehends more complex time phrases: for a long time, for years, a whole week, in the meantime, two things at once.
  • Knows heavy/light, loud/soft, like/unlike, long/short.
  • Understands comparatives and superlatives: tall/taller/tallest, same/more/less, most/least, several/few, some/many, before/after, now/later.
  • Understands all pronouns and contractions.
  • Understands "the opposite of – is –"
  • Understands "zero" represents nothing.
  • Points to coin when named.
  • Understands 2,800 – 13,000 words
  • Imitates a 14-syllable sentence, based on short-term recollection.
  • Remembers five items of a story.
  • Recalls five numbers, letters, or words.
  • Responds correctly to complicated sentences, but may still be confused by long complex sentences, particularly those contains compound clauses.

Six Years

  • Knows right and left of his own body.
  • Understands approximately 20,000+ words.
  • Understands irregular comparatives, e.g, good/better/best.
  • Responds appropriately to numbers such as "Give me four pennies."
  • Imitates a 16-syllable sentence, based on short-term recollection.
  • Remembers six items of a story.
  • Repeats three numbers backwards.


Copyright © 1999-2003. Ellen A. Rhoades. All rights reserved. 
Do not copy with permission of the author. 
It is not to be redistributed in any form without permission from the author.