A Little About Me and This Blog

I have been a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) since 1987. I am a member of the American Speech and Hearing Association. I have worked in the states of New York, Hawaii and Florida. I am currently in New York State. I have worked in settings that include public schools, special education preschools, hospitals, adult day treatment programs, home health rehabilitation, early intervention and preschool homebased therapy. I have provided evaluation and therapy to people ranging in age from 6 months to 100 years. I have worked with a wide range of conditions and treatments including fluency, aphasia, apraxia, voice disorders, dysphagia, cleft palate, hearing impairment, articulation delay, language delay, augmentative/alternative communication, autism, and many others through the years.
The purpose of this Blog is to share information and answer questions that you may have. I will strive to provide the correct information to the best of my professional knowledge. I may not share the same professional opinion as other licensed speech pathologists and I encourage second opinions if you want to be as informed as possible.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Speech Sound Development Guidelines

     Children develop at different rates in all areas.  There is a general guideline for when children reach developmental milestones, but there is a wide range of what is considered normal development.  This is also true in the development of speech sounds in children. This may be referred to as Articulation Skills as well. The guidelines below are just that, they are only meant as a guide, not a definite rule. Different sources may place sounds at different age mastery, so you may read a source with slight variations to what I have here. The ages at which children master sounds, means that they are able to use the sound correctly in all word positions on a consistent basis.  Children are always working on some sounds and can use them correctly in some word positions.  We call those sounds emerging.

     The earliest sounds that are generally mastered by children are /m,p,b,h,w,n/. Most children have these sounds mastered by the time they turn 3.  While they are reaching mastery on these sounds, they are working on perfecting the following sounds: /k,g,d,t,v,f, y/.  These sounds have generally been mastered by age 4.  By age 6, children should now be able to use /ing, l, j, sh, ch, zh/.  The sounds that are generally the latest to be mastered are/r, s, z, th/.  Children at age 7 and 8 could still be working toward mastering these sounds. 

     Children generally use substitutions for sounds that they have not yet mastered.  You will likely hear a three year old use many words, but not use the sounds of these words correctly.  They may say "I wub ew" instead of "I love you." because they may still be working on mastery of /l, v, y/ sounds.  We know what they are trying to say, but there are sound errors. Parents can usually fill in the blanks of their child's speech.  They often do not even consciously notice the errors. 

     You may have a child that is making some later sounds, but not yet some early ones.  This is possible.  In this case,  be sure to model these early sounds and do things that exaggerate the sounds they are missing.  It is fine for parents to notice that a child is not making the /d/ sound, for example, and try to boost the development of this sound by doing activities that incorporate it.  When you are rolling a ball down a slide say "down, down, down"  Have child imitate.  It is fine to have them look at you and tell them to listen to how you say it.  Exaggerate the "d" while they see how you make it. 

     In an earlier post I told how learning speech sounds involves some trial and error.  If a child is of an age that should be mastering a particular sound and he is not, it is fine to point out this sound and focus on it in play and activities. They will not know they are using sounds incorrectly if it is not addressed either directly or indirectly through modeling.  I will do a later post on some activities to work on  single sounds.  If you feel that your child's overall speech sound development is delayed, contact your pediatrician who can refer you to a  Speech Pathologist for an evaluation and therapy.  If they do qualify for therapy, parents will still need to be involved in modifying the child's sound by doing activities and modeling suggested by the therapist.

Feel free to ask me questions if you are a little unsure about your child's current sound development. 

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