Milestones: Normal Speech and Language Development Across the Life Span

Second Edition

John W. Oller, Jr., Stephen D. Oller, Stacy Oller

Details: 624 pages, B&W, Softcover, 7" x 10"

ISBN13: 978-1-59756-501-1

© 2013 | Available

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Milestones: Normal Speech and Language Development Across the Lifespan is a textbook for the introductory course in Language Development for students in Speech-Language Pathology, Communication Disorders, Special Education, Educational Psychology and Education. It adopts a coherent chronological approach, beginning with responsiveness to speech and language in the womb and working across the lifespan into maturity and beyond.

By using a chronological organization, the text helps students relate the material to the whole person at each milestone. It takes a constructive approach, starting with the simplest theoretical apparatus of the youngest infant, gradually increasing in complexity and comprehensiveness one milestone at a time. The organizational background becomes a series of narratives of interesting cases, keeping the theory and structure of language development grounded in real stories.

In the second edition, the authors have enhanced and updated the cutting-edge information on early language development, literacy acquisition, and some of the factors that can delay or even derail the normal progression. They have amplified innovations that students found useful in the first edition while updating the text with respect to current research and theory. The organization of the text has been streamlined, and some of the theory and research has been clarified and illustrated with additional or updated videographic illustrations.

The digital resources on the second edition DVD-ROM include:

  • A complete Digital Summary of the whole book together with hyperlinked media and Internet resources referred to in the book
  • A well-illustrated PowerPoint summary of each chapter with one or more videographic clips for every class meeting
  • A Study Guide of Multiple Choice Questions containing 1,000 items (400 more than in the prior edition) linked in sequence, page-by-page and chapter-by-chapter, to the subject matter in the text
  • A series of 10 Discussion Questions at the end of each chapter
  • A digitally searchable Glossary of Technical Terms also containing brief biographies of major theoreticians, researchers, and innovators
  • A searchable list of all the published and Internet references in the book
  • An extensive index

The foundational chronology of basic milestones of development is essential information for speech-language pathologists and for educators working with preschoolers, as well as obstetricians, pediatricians, nurses, and professionals in the health sciences. The second edition of Milestones continues to lead the way in bringing this crucial information to successive new generations of students and future clinicians.

Chapter 1. Development Across the Life Span


Getting There Earlier Than Expected Language Systems and Their Grammars Intentional Actions Are Grammatical Principles of Development

Common Ground: Where the Researchers Agree

You Can Make a Difference Summing Up and Looking Ahead Study and Discussion Questions


Chapter 2.  Before and Just After Birth


Actions Are Crucial to Development

The Integration of Sensation  and Movement

Symbols:  Emotion, Memory, Imagination, and Language

Testing Sensation  and Movement at Birth

Connecting  Language with Content

Innate  Language Capacity or Just Biomechanics? Cross-Modal Transfer and Integration of the Senses Summing Up and Looking Ahead

Study and Discussion Questions


Chapter 3. Language Acquisition theory


Three Kinds of Work Distinguishing  Forms of Speech Abstraction

Abstracted Signs Enrich Experience

Learning to Understand What You Don’t Understand

Making A Critical Distinction Summing Up and Looking Ahead Study and Discussion Questions


Chapter 4. Entities That Move and Talk


Coordinating Movements

Solving the Forms of Significant Movements The “Nonverbal” Signs Needed for Words The Surprising Problem of Identities

The Sign Cycle

The Iconic Cycle of Abstraction

The Indexical Cycle

Abstracting and Generalizing to the Hypostatic  Index

Summing Up and Looking Ahead

Study and Discussion Questions


Chapter 5. Working Up to A Receptive Vocabulary


Integrating the Nonverbal Signs with the Verbal

Levels of Reference and the Logical Positions of Discourse

Building Up to Tertiary Reference

The Infant Uses All Three Positions of Discourse

Indexes as the Connectors Discriminating Linguistic Symbols Gaining Motor Control of Surface-Forms Summing Up and Looking Ahead

Study and Discussion Questions


Chapter 6. From “One Word” to Grammatical Strings


Reviewing What’s Already Been Achieved

Working Backward from the Goal

What’s an Argument

The Growing Hierarchy of Sign Systems Moving Beyond Zero Order Predicates Zero Order Predicates Become Arguments

Meaningful Questions About Words Emerge

Summing Up and Looking Ahead

Study and Discussion Questions


Chapter 7.  Pragmatics and Literacy


From Surface-Forms to Pragmatics

The First Symbols Are TNRs

The Adult Level of Mature Reasoning A General Limit of Abstractness Obstacles  to Success with Phonics Summing Up and Looking Ahead Study and Discussion Questions


Chapter 8. Meaning Outranks Surface Form


It’s All About Meaning

Meaning Enables Communication

Whole Language Approaches

The Critical Role of Narrative-Like Sequences

Universals of Chronology

Becoming Literate Is Cognitive Empowerment

Achieving Ordinary Coherence Summing Up and Looking Ahead Study and Discussion Questions


Chapter 9. Different Languages, Dialects, and Cultures


Consequences of Language/Dialect Differences the Difference Between Languages and Dialects New Varieties Are Constantly Arising

Language Varieties at School

Evaluating Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Abilities

Revisiting Disproportionality in LD and Gifted


How to Achieve Valid Measurements, Assessments, and Judgments

Nonprimary Language Instruction/Acquisition

Methods That Work: Always Involve Pragmatic


Summing Up and Looking Ahead

Study and Discussion Questions


Chapter 10. Development in Relation to Disorders and Dissolution


The Theory of True Narrative Representations

Classifications of Disorders

The Milestones Scale of Development

Parents as Diagnosticians

Physical, Emotional (Social and Behavioral), and

Mental Development Disorders are Linked to Toxins Solving the Mystery Disorders

Epidemic Autism, Alzheimer’s, and Other Disorders

Life, a Mystery: Mortality? Not So Much Summing Up and Looking Beyond this Book Study and Discussion Questions



Glossary of Terms

Index of Authors, Subjects, and Technical Terms

Appendix 1. Battery of Multiple Choice Test Questions

Appendix 2. Battery of Multiple-Choice Test Questions: With Answers and Cross-References to Text

John W. Oller, Jr.

John W. Oller, Jr., PhD, has given a lifetime of study to language acquisition. What is its role in human development? How does it work from birth to maturity? How is it that our normal language capacity reaches not only across the whole lifespan, but beyond the grave into the past and future? How is it that language enables us to think about the timeless expanse of eternity? Dr. Oller began his work as a professor at the University of California in Los Angeles. He went on to found the Department of Linguistics at the University of New Mexico and the Applied Language and Speech Sciences Ph.D. Program at the University of Louisiana. Dr. Oller’s work shows that language and language-like systems underlie the architecture of the human brain as well as the genetic systems involved in biochemistry, detoxification, immune defenses and repairs. His most recent work with Dr. Stephen D. Oller and Stacy N. Oller, CCC-SLP, titled Milestones: Introducing Normal Speech and Language Across the Life Span, Second Edition, presents findings, technologies, and theory at the cutting edge of the language sciences — see Biosemiotic Entropy, retrieved September 22, 2012, from .
Research on the etiology of autism and related worldwide epidemics leads to the unsurprising conclusion that for things to work in government, education, health sciences, and in our own biosystems, the guiding messages have to be validly connected to the facts. When biocontrol systems operating in the minuscule realms of nanoparticles and teraHz measurements are corrupted by toxins, disease agents, radiation, and their interactions, diseases, disorders, and death follow. In the macro-realms of classrooms, continents, and nations, getting the messages right is still the only way to achieve harmony, health, and understanding. Everything depends on valid pragmatic mapping of referring terms and referential systems onto entities and relations between them in the real world. For things to work, we must know what we are talking about. As we have learned from experimental and theoretical work by many independent researchers and theoreticians, biocontrol systems and human languages require the true mapping of words through actions to things. It’s all even built into our neuroarchitecture (see the featured article titled: “Language Assessment for Communication Disorders,” retrieved September 22, 2012, from ).

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Stephen D. Oller

Stephen D. Oller, PhD, is an associate professor in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Program (in the Department of Biological and Health Sciences) at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. He is currently working with Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, to develop an assessment protocol to be used with clients receiving speech and/or occupational therapy that incorporates sensory integration practices. A portion of this protocol includes the Milestones Scale, which is intended to help therapists ascertain a lower boundary of the zone of proximal development when selecting therapy targets for their clients.

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Stacy Oller

Stacy Oller, MS, has been practicing as a pediatric Speech Language Pathologist for 10 years. She received her BA from Louisiana State University and her MS from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. She has worked in a variety of placements, most recently at Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. There, along with her husband, Stephen D. Oller, she has played an integral role in a research project at Driscoll using the Milestone’s Scale to determine the reliability and effectiveness of sensory integration with children diagnosed with ASDs. Also alongside her husband, she presented a pilot study of the Milestone’s Scale as well as recommendations for using the scale to construct measureable outcomes at the ASHA and TSHA conferences in 2008. She has continued her education earning certifications in Deep Pharyngeal Neuromuscular Stimulation, Beckman Oral Motor, Neonatal Oral-Motor Assessment Scale, and Hannen. She believes these certifications play an important and necessary part of professional development but acknowledges her growth as an SLP has also come from working closely with Occupational and Physical Therapists! Stacy is currently working as a primary school SLP, while maintaining her relationship with various school and rehabilitation facilities in the Coastal Bend.

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