After the big #dressgate a few weeks back, I got to thinking about perceptions and a favorite old social language concept: perspective taking.

What is perspective taking? In Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking terms, perspective taking is when you have a thought about another person (“I can’t believe she thinks that dress is white and gold!”) and then realize that others have thoughts about us too (“She is crazy if she thinks that dress is black and blue!”). To further think of this concept we must be able to understand how others perceive things and realize that our opinions are not always the opinions of others but that we are always formulating thoughts about those around us whether we realize it or not. Was the dress black and blue or white and gold? Does it really matter? Are we so freaked out by the reality that others can see something differently than we can? And actually in this case, science can explain a lot to us.

duck rabbit 3_18_15This isn’t a new concept, however. Take one of my favorite books: Duck, Rabbit! Do you see a duck? Or maybe it’s a rabbit. But does it matter? The point is that we are able to defend our choices, explain them, and accept that others may not always agree with us. You have a thought and I have a thought – it’s what we do with those thoughts that enables us to form and maintain relationships with others. Often, our kids cannot understand this concept. They usually think because they like Minecraft or learning about black holes that others must like the same. We all find joy in a variety of topics, no matter who we are. And this is the concept I work on with my kids. If you can defend your opinions and accept the concept of agreeing to disagree, then I certainly feel successful. Furthermore, if you can realize that you are not the only one with thoughts (and that others will be perceiving you a certain way based on what you say or do) then we are definitely making progress.

Black and blue, white and gold, duck or rabbit. I can see the argument for any. Let’s work on acceptance of the argument and explaining what YOU think. We could all use a little flexible thinking.

Photos originally from and

Childhood Developmental Milestones

baby 3_17_15As a speech-language pathologist, I am often sought after by friends and family to provide solid information on development. My go-to responses often include: one year-one word, two-word combinations by 18 months, and walking around a year. Early developing sounds include all vowels and consonants /b, p, m, t, d, k, g/ (within the first 2-3 years).

However, this is not a perfect science. In fact, there are several schools of thought in the research about the when of sound development. The Virginia Department of Education uses the Iowa Nebraska Articulation Norms in schools as a guide but then the Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation Norms present some discrepancies.

So what do we do? This seems far from NORMal. My rule of thumb is often to use these as a guide. When testing children, we need to have some kind of reference and we can think about early (those named above) vs. late (“th” and “r”) developing sounds.

Another important “milestone” that is a good measure of sound development comes within a child’s intelligibility. I usually think of the following numbers when it comes to intelligibility to an unfamiliar listener (parents and teachers are deemed “familiar listeners”) when context is unknown: by 2 years old a child should be about 50% intelligible; by 3 years old a child should be about 75% intelligible; and by 4 years old a child should be about 100% intelligible. Keep in mind that I don’t think anyone is always 100% intelligible – this will specifically happen on the phone, in a crowded and noisy room, or when someone mumbles. Remember, these numbers are just a guide to get a general idea, as all children develop differently.

In any case, I always recommend visiting a licensed speech-language pathologist to assess articulation if you have the slightest concern. “Mother knows best,” as they say so go with your instincts. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!