The Talking Children Podcast

The Talking Children Podcast© is a weekly podcast designed to translate the latest research of a wide range of topics related to communication development in to accessible knowledge and tools that parents, caregivers and professionals can apply to daily interactions with the children in their lives.

Follow us on Facebook:

Episode 1: Welcome to TCP

Welcome to the Talking Children Podcast. In this episode I introduce the purpose of the podcast, that is, to translate the latest research in children’s communication development to enable parents, caregivers and educators to support the children in their lives. This podcast will drop every Tuesday (Australian time) and will cover a range of topics concerning children’s communication. There will also be listener Q&A episodes where I will answer selected questions received via our email

Episode 2: Communication Development 101

In this episode we cover the basics of how children learn language and discuss the importance of interaction with primary caregivers. This episode lays the foundation for understanding all of the future topics we will cover on the podcast.

I unpack the simple mantra of: talk, read, play to help support children’s language development from their earliest moments.

Research referred to in this episode:

Cartmill, E. A., Armstrong, B. F., Gleitman, L. R., Goldin-Meadow, S., Medina, T. N., & Trueswell, J. C. (2013). Quality of early parent input predicts child vocabulary 3 years later. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences110(28), 11278-11283.

Christakis, D. A., Giklerson, J., Gray, S., Richards, J. A., Xu, D., Yapanel, U., & Zimmerman, F. J. (2009). Teaching by listening: The importance of adult-child conversations to language development. Pediatrics, 124(1), 342-349. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-2276

Farrant, B. M., & Zubrick, S. R. (2011). Early vocabulary development: The importance of joint attention and parent–child book reading. First Language, 32(3), 343–364. doi:10.1177/0142723711422626 F

Farrant, B.M. (2012) Joint attention and parent-child book reading: Keys to help close gaps in early language development, school readiness and academic achievement. Family Matters, 91, 38-46. Available at:<;dn=030709692648389;res=IELHSS&gt; ISSN: 1030-2646. [cited 16 Apr 19].

Myae, H., Moore, N., Vukelich, C. and Buell, M. (2010). Does play make a difference? How play intervention affects the vocabulary learning of at-risk preschoolers. American Journal of Play 3, 82–105.

Gervain, J. (2015). Plasticity in early language acquisition: the effects of prenatal and early childhood experience. Current opinion in neurobiology35, 13-20.

Huttenlocher, J., Waterfall, H., Vasilyeva, M., Vevea, J., & Hedges, L. V. (2010). Sources of variability in children’s language growth. Cognitive Psychology61(4), 343-365.

Lillard, A. S., Lerner, M. D., Hopkins, E. J., Dore, R. A., Smith, E. D., & Palmquist, C. M. (2013). The impact of pretend play on children’s development: A review of the evidence. Psychological Bulletin139(1), 1-34.

Medina, T. N., Snedeker, J., Trueswell, J. C., & Gleitman, L. R. (2011). How words can and cannot be learned by observation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences108(22), 9014-9019.

Topping, K., Dekhinet, R., & Zeedyk, S. (2013). Parent–infant interaction and children’s language development. Educational Psychology33(4), 391-426.

Wasik, B. A., Hindman, A. H., & Snell, E. K. (2016). Book reading and vocabulary development: A systematic review. Early Childhood Research Quarterly37, 39-57.

Weisleder, A., & Fernald, A. (2013). Talking to children matters: Early language experience strengthens processing and builds vocabulary. Psychological Science24(11), 2143-2152.

Episode 3: Baby Talk

This week’s episode explores the way that babies communicate in their first few months of life including eye contact, facial expressions, babbling and gesture. We also describe how adults use “baby talk” to communicate with babies and help them to learn language. I then share three ways that adults can engage with babies to help lay the essential early foundations for language learning and communication.

Research referred to in this episode:

Farrant, Brad M. (2012). Joint attention and parent-child book reading: Keys to help close gaps in early language development, school readiness and academic achievement. Family Matters, 91, 38-46. Available at:;dn=030709692648389;res=IELHSS

Goldstein, M. H., & Schwade, J. A. (2008). Social feedback to infants’ babbling facilitates rapid phonological learning. Psychological science19(5), 515-523.

Golinkoff, R. M., Can, D. D., Soderstrom, M., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2015). (Baby) talk to me: The social context of infant-directed speech and its effects on early language acquisition. Current Directions in Psychological Science24(5), 339-344.

Gros‐Louis, J., West, M. J., & King, A. P. (2014). Maternal responsiveness and the development of directed vocalizing in social interactions. Infancy19(4), 385-408.

McMurray, B., Kovack-Lesh, K. A., Goodwin, D., & McEchron, W. (2013). Infant directed speech and the development of speech perception: Enhancing development or an unintended consequence?. Cognition129(2), 362-378.

Naoi, N., Minagawa-Kawai, Y., Kobayashi, A., Takeuchi, K., Nakamura, K., Yamamoto, J. I., & Shozo, K. (2012). Cerebral responses to infant-directed speech and the effect of talker familiarity. Neuroimage59(2), 1735-1744.

Paavola, L., Kunnari, S., & Moilanen, I. (2005). Maternal responsiveness and infant intentional communication: Implications for the early communicative and linguistic development. Child: Care, Health and Development31(6), 727-735.

Rowe, M. L. (2012). A longitudinal investigation of the role of quantity and quality of child‐directed speech in vocabulary development. Child development83(5), 1762-1774.

Soderstrom, M. (2007). Beyond babytalk: Re-evaluating the nature and content of speech input to preverbal infants. Developmental Review27(4), 501-532.

Thiessen, E. D., Hill, E. A., & Saffran, J. R. (2005). Infant-directed speech facilitates word segmentation. Infancy7(1), 53-71.

Topping, K., Dekhinet, R., & Zeedyk, S. (2013). Parent–infant interaction and children’s language development. Educational Psychology33(4), 391-426.

Weisleder, A., & Fernald, A. (2013). Talking to children matters: Early language experience strengthens processing and builds vocabulary. Psychological Science24(11), 2143-2152.

Episode 4: Children’s Speech Development

This episode discusses how children learn the sounds in their language. We talk about the typical processes that children go through when learning their sounds and at what age sounds are acquired by children in English. Strategies for supporting children to learn their sounds and an activity for identifying whether a child might need support with their speech development are provided.


Average Age of English Speech Sound Acquisition
(Summarised by McLeod & Crowe, 2018)


Bishop, D. V., & Adams, C. (1990). A prospective study of the relationship between specific language impairment, phonological disorders and reading retardation. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry31(7), 1027-1050.

Dodd, B., Holm, A., Hua, Z., & Crosbie, S. (2003). Phonological development: a normative study of British English‐speaking children. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics17(8), 617-643.

Law, J., Garrett, Z., & Nye, C. (2003). Speech and language therapy interventions for children with primary speech and language delay or disorder. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (3).

Prather, E. M., Hedrick, D. L., & Kern, C. A. (1975). Articulation development in children aged two to four years. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders40(2), 179-191.

Episode 5: Stuttering in Early Childhood

This episode introduces stuttering in early childhood. The types of stuttering behaviours are described and information is provided about risk factors and when to seek help. The episode concludes with a list of dos and don’ts when talking with a child who stutters.


Fact sheets from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

The Impacts of Stuttering
Stuttering and Anxiety


Alm, P. A. (2014). Stuttering in relation to anxiety, temperament, and personality: Review and analysis with focus on causality. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 40, 5-21.

Ambrose, N. G., & Yairi, E. (1999). Normative disfluency data for early childhood stuttering. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research42(4), 895-909.

Anderson, J. D., Pellowski, M. W., Conture, E. G., & Kelly, E. M. (2003). Temperamental characteristics of young children who stutter . Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 46(5), 1221-1233.

Beilby, J. M., Byrnes, M. L., & Yaruss, J. S. (2012). The impact of a stuttering disorder on Western Australian children and adolescents. Perspectives on Fluency and Fluency Disorders, 22, 51-62.

Chang, S. E. (2014). Research updates in neuroimaging studies of children who stutter. Seminars in Speech and Language, 35, 67-79.

Ezrati-Vinacour, R., Platzky, R., & Yairi, E. (2001). The young child’s awareness of stuttering-like disfluency. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research44(2), 368-380.

Finn, P., & Cordes, A. K. (1997). Multicultural identification and treatment of stuttering: A continuing need for research. Journal of Fluency Disorders22(3), 219-236.

Ntourou, K., Conture, E. G., & Lipsey, M. W. (2011). Language abilities of children who stutter: A meta-analytical review. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology20(3), 163-179.

Ntourou, K., Conture, E. G., & Walden, T. A. (2013). Emotional reactivity and regulation in preschool-age children who stutter. Journal of Fluency Disorders38(3), 260-274.

Reilly, S., Onslow, M., Packman, A., Cini, E., Conway, L., Obioha, C., … Wake, M. (2013). Natural history of stuttering to 4 years of age: A prospective community-based study. Pediatrics, 132, 460-467.

Reilly, S., Onslow, M., Packman, A., Wake, M., Bavin, E., Prior, M., … Ukoumunne, O. C. (2009). Predicting stuttering onset by age 3: A prospective, community cohort study. Pediatrics, 123, 270-277.

Yairi, E., & Ambrose, N. G. (1999). Early childhood stuttering I: Persistency and recovery rates. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research42(5), 1097-1112.

Zebrowski, P. M., & Schum, R. L. (1993). Counseling parents of children who stutter. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 2(2), 65-73.

Episode 6: Communication Milestones – Wait or Act?

This episode discusses the importance of early identification and early intervention for communication difficulties. I draw upon research evidence to discuss the risks of waiting and the benefits of acting early upon concerns about a child’s communication. I talk about the important role both parents and teachers play in this process. I also discuss the communication milestones developed by Speech Pathology Australia and how these can be used to help identify children who may need support for their communication.


Speech Pathology Australia’s Communication Milestone Posters

Research referred to in this episode

Bishop, D. V., & Adams, C. (1990). A prospective study of the relationship between specific language impairment, phonological disorders and reading retardation. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry31(7), 1027-1050.

Koegel, L. K., Koegel, R. L., Ashbaugh, K., & Bradshaw, J. (2014). The importance of early identification and intervention for children with or at risk for autism spectrum disorders. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology16(1), 50-56.

Koegel, L. (2000). Interventions to facilitate communication in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30, 383–391.

Law, J., Garrett, Z., & Nye, C. (2004). The efficacy of treatment for children with developmental speech and language delay/disorder. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.

Leitao, S., & Fletcher, J. (2004). Literacy outcomes for students with speech impairment: long‐term follow‐up. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders39(2), 245-256.

McAllister, L., McCormack, J., McLeod, S., & Harrison, L. J. (2011). Expectations and experiences of accessing and participating in services for childhood speech impairment. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology13(3), 251-267.

McGill, N., McLeod, S., Crowe, K., & Hopf, S. (2019). Presented at Speech Pathology Australia Conference, Brisbane, Australia.

Nathan, L., Stackhouse, J., Goulandris, N., & Snowling, M. J. (2004). The development of early literacy skills among children with speech difficulties. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.

Reichow, B. (2012). Overview of meta-analyses on early intensive behavioral intervention for young children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42, 512–520.

Roulstone, S., Miller, L. L., Wren, Y., & Peters, T. J. (2009). The natural history of speech impairment of 8-year-old children in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children: Error rates at 2 and 5 years. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology11(5), 381-391.

Singleton, N. C. (2018). Late talkers: why the wait-and-see approach is outdated. Pediatric Clinics65(1), 13-29.

Verdon, S. (2018). Can parental concern about early speech and language development predict children’s longitudinal outcomes? Presented at Speech Pathology Australia Conference, Adelaide, Australia.

Episode 7: Multilingualism in Children

This episode looks at children who are learning to speak or use more than one language. In Australia, 1 in 6 children start school speaking a language other than English, so there are many parents and teachers who are eager to know how best to support their language development.
I draw upon the research to share 5 key facts and dispel 5 common myths around multilingualism in children.

Research referred to in this episode

Adesope, O. O., Lavin, T., Thompson, T., & Ungerleider, C. (2010). A systematic review and meta-analysis of the cognitive correlates of bilingualism. Review of Educational Research, 80(2), 207-245.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2017). 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved from

Bialystok, E. (2011). Reshaping the mind: The benefits of bilingualism. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology/Revue Canadienne de Psychologie Expérimentale, 65(4), 229-235.

Blake, H. L., McLeod, S., Verdon, S. & Fuller, G. (2018). The relationship between spoken English proficiency and participation in higher education, employment and income from two Australian censuses. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 20(2), 202-215. doi: 10.1080/17549507.2016.1229031.

Cho, G. (2000). The role of heritage language in social interactions and relationships: Reflections from a language minority group. Bilingual Research Journal24(4), 369-384.

Clarkson, P. C. (2007). Australian Vietnamese students learning mathematics: High ability bilinguals and their use of their languages. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 64(2), 191-215.

Clyne, M. (2008). The monolingual mindset as an impediment to the development of plurilingual potential in Australia. Sociolinguistic Studies, 2(3), 347-366.

Fan, S. P., Liberman, Z., Keysar, B., & Kinzler, K. D. (2015). The exposure advantage: Early exposure to a multilingual environment promotes effective communication. Psychological Science26(7), 1090-1097.

International Expert Panel on Multilingual Children’s Speech (2012). Multilingual children with speech sound disorders: Position paper. Bathurst, Australia: Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education (RIPPLE), Charles Sturt University Retrieved from

Park, S. M., & Sarkar, M. (2007). Parents’ attitudes toward heritage language maintenance for their children and their efforts to help their children maintain the heritage language: A case study of Korean-Canadian immigrants. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 20(3), 223-235.

Verdon, S., McLeod, S. & Winsler, A. (2014). Linguistic diversity among Australian children in the first five years of life. Speech, Language, and Hearing 17(4), 196-203 doi: 10.1179/2050572814Y.0000000038

Verdon, S., McLeod, S., & Winsler, A. (2014). Language maintenance and loss in a population study of young Australian children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 29(2), 168–181. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2013.12.003

Wright, S, C., & Taylor, D. M. (1995). Identity and the language of the classroom: Investigating the impact of heritage versus second language instruction on personal and collective self-esteem. Journal of Educational Psychology87(2), 241.

Episode 8: Baby Sign

In this episode I explain what baby sign is and its potential benefits. I then provide step by step tips for introducing baby sign with a little one.


Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children Auslan Key Sign App

Baby Sign in Australia –

Research cited in this episode

Fitzpatrick, E. M., Thibert, J., Grandpierre, V., & Johnston, J. C. (2014). How HANDy are baby signs? A systematic review of the impact of gestural communication on typically developing, hearing infants under the age of 36 months. First Language34(6), 486-509.

Howlett, N., Kirk, E., & Pine, K. J. (2011). Does ‘wanting the best’ create more stress? The link between baby sign classes and maternal anxiety. Infant and Child Development20(4), 437-445.

Johnston, J. C., Durieux-Smith, A., & Bloom, K. (2005). Teaching gestural signs to infants to advance child development: A review of the evidence. First Language25(2), 235-251.

Kirk, E., Howlett, N., Pine, K. J., & Fletcher, B. (2013). To sign or not to sign? The impact of encouraging infants to gesture on infant language and maternal mind‐mindedness. Child Development84(2), 574-590.

Mueller, V., & Sepulveda, A. (2014). Parental perception of a baby sign workshop on stress and parent–child interaction. Early Child Development and Care184(3), 450-468.

Özçalişkan, Ş., Adamson, L. B., Dimitrova, N., Bailey, J., & Schmuck, L. (2016). Baby sign but not spontaneous gesture predicts later vocabulary in children with Down syndrome. Journal of Child Language43(4), 948-963.

Thompson, R. H., Cotnoir‐Bichelman, N. M., McKerchar, P. M., Tate, T. L., & Dancho, K. A. (2007). Enhancing early communication through infant sign training. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis40(1), 15-23.

Episode 9 Neurodiversity: Windows or Mac?

In this episode I discuss neurodiversity and taking a strengths based approach to supporting children.

Episode 10: SPRING into supporting children’s communication

In this episode I unpack the 6 steps to the SPRING approach to supporting communication development in children.

Episode 11: Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) with Shaun Zeigenfusz

Episode 12: Cleft Lip and Palate in Children with Dr Anna Cronin

Research cited in this episode

Cronin, A., Verdon, S., & McLeod, S. (2020). Holistic considerations for family-centred practice with children with cleft palate. Journal of Communication Disorders.

Cronin, A., Verdon, S., & McLeod, S. (2020). Holistic considerations for family-centred practice with children with cleft palate. JCPSLP

Cronin, A., McLeod, S., & Verdon, S. (2020). Holistic communication assessment for young children with cleft palate using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health: Children and Youth. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 51(4), 914-938. 

Cronin, A., McLeod, S., & Verdon, S. (2020). Applying the ICF-CY to Specialist Speech-Language Pathologists’ Practice with Toddlers with Cleft Palate Speech. The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal, 1055665620918799.

Episode 13: Childhood trauma and its impact on language development

Episode 14: Getting the most out of speech therapy with Dr Katelyn Melvin

Episode 15: What is Autism?

Episode 16: Talking Stuttering with Rich Stephens from SAY: Australia

In this Episode I speak with Rich Stephens, founder of SAY:Australia about supporting people who stutter to be their authentic selves.

Episode 17 Autism: Frequently Asked Questions with Lucia Flint

Part 2 of our Autism series. In this episode I answer some of the most commonly asked questions about Autism with special guest Lucia Flint. We cover topics such as whether autism is becoming more common, masking, stimming, regression and meltdowns. This episode is busting common myths with the latest research on neurodiversity affirming practices.

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: