Updated: Aug 26, 2019
Did you know that we learn to make speech sounds at different stages in life? We do not automatically know all of these sounds when we are born; It takes time for babies to learn how to move their mouths for breathing, feeding, and speaking. When we hear babies start to coo and babble, they are learning to make different speech sounds!
It is perfectly normal for young children ages 5 and under to make sounds incorrectly. That’s right, not every speech error is considered a “problem!” We hear many children make errors such as wabbit for 'rabbit' or lello for 'yellow'. These are how children attempt to produce the adult forms of words. However, it is important to know what is developmentally appropriate for young children at each age. Below is a helpful chart for reference:
**Please keep in mind that this chart shows when speech sounds emerge and are typically achieved in development; Some sounds may not necessarily be mastered at the stated ages. For example, while the 'R' sound is commonly acquired around age 5, it may not be mastered consistently until age 7. Another example is the 'L' sound; While it is typically acquired in children as young as 4, consonant 'L' blends (flower, glove, clown) may not be produced correctly until age 6.**
How do I know if my child has a speech disorder?
Your child may have a speech disorder if they are not producing the sounds that should be present at his/her age. Instead, they produce speech sound errors, omissions, or substitutions that do not go away. Others may find the child difficult to understand or even unintelligible. By age 3, children should be understood by listeners about 75% of the time, and at least 90% of the time by age 5. It is also important to note if the child is aware of their speech challenges, as they can negatively impact a child's confidence and willingness to talk.
Causes of speech disorders:
It is important to determine that a child’s speech errors may be related to other disorders:
Motor planning disorders (childhood apraxia)
Oral-motor difficulties (see Orofacial Myofunctional Treatment section on my website)
Neurological or Developmental disorders
How can I help my child with their sounds?
If your child may have a speech disorder, refer to a Speech-Language Pathologist for an evaluation. Speech therapy helps the child successfully produce their sounds in words, in sentences, and in conversation. Early exposure and intervention are key! The older the child gets, the harder it may be to achieve correct sound production. Here are a few ways to expose your child to speech sounds at home:
Talk to your child as much as possible, even when they're in infancy. Have them watch your mouth when you make the sounds and form words.
Use babble sounds such as ma, ba, dada and label names of items for infants and toddlers.
Incorporate animal sounds and silly sounds heard in everyday life “beep beep,” “uh oh,” “wee,” “wow!”
For children of all ages, model the correct sound to your child when they attempt it. If you understand what the child said (even if not all sounds are correct), repeat it back to them so that they know you understood the message.
If you have questions or concerns about your child's speech, please complete the “Request Contact” section below and Gillian will schedule a FREE initial consultation with you!