Speech sound development

Let’s talk about speech sounds. Speech is a very complex task. All sounds are not developed the same way or at the same time. Some sounds are much more difficult and complex to produce than other sounds. For instance, vowels typically develop before consonant sounds. Certain consonant sounds develop before others. It is common for very young children to mispronounce sounds in their speech. This is one reason so many of us think our kids are so cute when they talk. I am a speech pathologist and mother of three little ones. I often hear “Mama, do you wite dis?”, “Wet’s doe to duh stuh.”, “I wub oo”. I too love to hear these cute little voices too. When do we begin to question whether it could be a problem?

One thing we look at when we diagnose an articulation disorder is how well people understand him/her. This is referred to as speech intelligibility. Often the parent may understand 75% of what their child says but other listeners may only understand 50%. We also look at the sounds he/she pronounces incorrectly in correlation to their age. It is important to remember that, as with most developmental milestones, every child develops differently. The ages and sounds given below are a general guideline for typically developing speech sounds.

Children should be able to pronounce the following sounds around the ages specified:

By 3 years old: “p”(pot), “b”(boo), “t”(two), “d”(dog), “k”(cat), “g”(go), “m”(mom), “n”(no), “w”(want), “h”(home)
By 4 years old: “ng”(king), “y”(yes), “f”(foot), “v”(van)
By 5 years old: “s”(see), “z”(zip), “sh”(shoe), “ch”(cheese), “j”(jump), “l”(leg)
By 6 years old: “zh”(treasure), “r”(run, tiger), “th”(this)
By 7 years old, a child’s speech should be understood by anyone they speak to. It should be very similar to adult speech.



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