The Clinic Corner


GREETINGS! My name is Sara Semesky and I am pleased to have recently become the Clinic Coordinator at the Hilgenberg Scottish Rite Childhood Speech and Language Center. I’m currently in my fourth year as a Speech Language Pathologist at HASA and in my second year at The Scottish Rite. Additionally, I’m happy to introduce Hayley Boyle, our newest Speech-Language Pathologist who is a recent graduate of Loyola University and currently completing her Clinical Fellowship, a mentored professional experience necessary for all new clinicians. Hayley has a strong ability to connect not only with her clients but also with their families, which is a key element of successful therapy. Her energy and expertise make her a truly valuable asset to our team.

GREETINGS and Happy New Year from the SpeechLanguage Pathologists at the Hilgenberg Scottish Rite Childhood Speech and Language Center! We are looking forward to another productive year of supporting the communication needs of the Baltimore community. We wrapped up 2019 with a wonderful holiday celebration for our clients and their families! For many of our families, Scottish Rite’s Annual Holiday Party has become an honored tradition and we would like to thank all who helped make the celebration so cheerful and festive.

The excitement continues! As we begin 2020, we would like to take the opportunity to provide in-depth explanations of various communication disorders within our Clinic Corner article. Each quarter, you will hear from one of our clinical SLPs about one of the many areas addressed in our field. We aim to educate about communication disorders and advocate for those who are impacted, in order to expand our reach even further. Topics will include: speech sound disorders, expressive communication, receptive communication, fluency disorders, augmentative and assistive communication, language acquisition, vocal health and hygiene, and pragmatic language. If you’re interested in reading about a specific communication topic in our next article, please do not hesitate to reach out to scottishrite@

In this edition, we’ll focus on how language typically develops and how to support these skills. Below are language milestones, organized by age of acquisition.

Though babies aren’t expected to use true words during their first year, they are certainly communicating! Babies are able to use their cry, facial expressions, and body language to express their emotions and preferences.

• 0-3 MONTHS: Babies will use differentiated cries to let their caregivers know when they are tired, hungry, and wet. They will startle to loud noises and begin to recognize familiar voices.

• 3-6 MONTHS: Babies use their voices for attention and to make various playful sounds such as cooing, laughing, and gurgling. They turn to sounds and begin to respond to tones of a speaker’s voice.

• 6-9 MONTHS: Babies use their tongues and lips to produce syllables such as “ba”, “ma,” “da”. They show interest in music and they begin to try to imitate vocalizations.

• 9-12 MONTHS: Babies may begin to say “mama” and “dada” and babble as if they are speaking; They may start to recognize the names of familiar people, items, and activities related to their routines.

• 12-15 MONTHS: In addition to “mama” and “dad”, babies will start to say 2 to 3 consistent words or approximations (e.g. “baba” for bottle). They also begin to associate objects with sounds (e.g. cow says “moo”).

Receptive and expressive language skills can be supported by caregivers by using a variety of activities and strategies.

We suggest incorporating daily book reading from an early age, as the repetition and familiarity of stories can help to boost a child’s vocabulary. Parents are also encouraged to incorporate simple directions into daily routines and narrate activities using simple sentences and emphasizing key words.

If you have concerns about your child’s language development, schedule an evaluation with a Speech-Language Pathologist at the Hilgenberg Scottish Rite Childhood Speech and Language Center by calling 410-243-3800 or emailing To the Scottish Rite Masons and all of the loyal supporters of our mission, we thank you for your contributions and dedication to serve the communication needs of Baltimore!