What is a speech problem?
Learning to pronounce speech sounds correctly happens gradually. All children make predictable pronunciation errors in the process of learning to talk. There is an accepted developmental sequence for speech sound development, for example, sounds such as ‘m’ and ‘d’ are produced earlier than ‘r’ and ‘th’. There are many different speech sound disorders requiring differential diagnosis and thorough assessment by a speech pathologist. These different disorders often require very different therapy approaches so it is important that the child’s difficulties are carefully investigated as early as possible.
Could my child have a speech problem?
Speech should be clear and understandable to strangers or unfamiliar people by four years of age, even if a few speech sound errors persist. A speech pathologist needs to determine whether the pronunciation errors present in a child’s speech are expected or not for their age. The following outlines the ages at which 75% of Australian children produce sounds correctly in single words (Kilminster and Laird, 1978). A child should be able to say all the sounds up to and including their age. If your child is unable to say one or more sounds for their age then a speech pathology assessment would be recommended:
- By 3 years: m, n, h, p, ng, w, d, t, y, b, k, c & g
- By 3 ½ years: f
- By 4 years: l, sh and ch
- By 4 ½ years: s, z, and j
- By 5 years: r
- By 6 years: v and consonant blends (e.g. tr, pl & sl)
- By 8 ½ years: th
Contact us for more information on how we can help with speech problems.