Will my Child Outgrow a Speech Problem? Speech Matters-June 2010
By Cheryl D. Lindsay, M.S. SLP
As a parent you may be wondering if your child’s speech is developing normally. Similar to other areas of early childhood development, there are also speech and language milestones. These act as general guidelines to help you consider whether or not your child’s speech is on the right track.
Below is a brief outline, giving you a range of speech sound development. It is important to remember that there are always individual differences concerning which sound(s) your child will develop, and when. The beginning of each range shows when the sound may begin to develop, and the end of the range shows when your child should be able to say the sound correctly. (Source: Helping Kids Discover and Develop Language (Angus, Cahalan, Chenette & Pinnau Emrich).
1-3 years /p,m,h,n,w,b/
2-4 years /k,g,d,f,y,ng/
3-6 years /r,l/
4-7 years /ch, sh, z, j/
5-8 years /th, zh/
When your child is learning to speak, they may make sound errors along the way. Some errors are quite normal and expected. Common errors include saying “w” for “r” (wabbit for rabbit) and “d” for “th” (dat for that). Errors like these can become a concern when they persist as your child gets older.
If you are concerned that your child is not saying the sounds that would be expected for his/her age, it is recommended that you first have your child’s hearing assessed. An audiologist is able to test your child’s hearing and tell you whether or not their hearing is within the normal range. The audiologist may recommend next steps for your child, if there is an issue with their hearing. As a parent, you can book an appointment with the audiologist yourself, since a referral from your family doctor is not necessary.
After the hearing test, if you are still concerned with your child’s speech development, it is recommended that you contact a speech-language pathologist (S-LP).
Some children will outgrow their speech sound error(s) but some will need speech therapy to help them say their sounds correctly. An S-LP assesses and decides whether or not the speech sound(s) may develop on their own, or if speech therapy is necessary.
As a parent, there a few things you can do to help your child learn to say their speech sounds. You can model how to say the sound correctly by repeating the word or phrase back to your child, as in, “Yes, that car is red”. You can also ask your child to repeat the word or phrase by asking, “Is it lellow or yellow?” This will help your child learn how to hear the differences between the sound that they are saying and the correct sound.