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.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Speech Sound Milestones

As a speech pathologist, I often have people asking me questions about their toddlers' and preschoolers' speech sound development. "Articulation" is the formal term for the ability to physically make consonant and vowel sounds that can be used alone and in combination with other sounds for the purpose of speech. All babies babble. This is the early sound play where we hope to hear a true word. It usually sounds like "ah-buh," "muh-muh-muh," and "ah-da." They will babble sounds that are in our language and some sounds that are not speech sounds. If a child doesn't babble, or if they babble and then stop babbling, their hearing should be assessed. For a typical child, speech sounds develop in a similar developmental manner. Although all children vary somewhat, we can hope to have children master the production of certain sounds by certain ages. Some children learn later sounds at a younger age and may sound like they have perfect speech by age 3. Others have sounds that aren't completely mature yet by age 5. Both of these examples are within the range of what is normal. Below are general guidelines for speech sound development. Your child may be a bit ahead or behind these guidelines and that's ok, as long as they continue to go through the stages in a near age approppriate time span. If you have any questions or worries, start with your pediatrician or local public health department and ask for a speech and language evaluation. Early intervention programs will be available to you if your child is delayed.

1-6 months
Vowel sounds are generally heard first. Soon there will be consonants, typically ones like "k" and "g" produced in the back of the mouth. Towards 6 months there may be some combinations of consonants and vowels.

6 months
Makes a lot of different sounds such as laughing, gurgles and coos. Babble when alone and for attention.

8 months
May often use syllables ba, da, ka. They will try to imitate sounds and make four or even more different consonants.

10 months
They may use a syllable or use several in repetition such as "ba-ba-ba-ba." They may start saying "dada" or "mama." They will start using jargon which is babbling with intonation making it sound like a "sentence." They will also shout to gain attention.

12 months
By one year of age they will say two words in addition to "mama" and "dada" on a regular basis. They will try to imitate sounds and familiar words. Will start making sounds of familiar animals and environmental noises like motors. Hears well and can tell the difference between many sounds.

18 months
They will use 10-20 words and start combining 2 words like "all gone," "Mommy up."
Imitates sounds and words more easily and accurately.

24 months
Vocabulary growing fast..around 300 or more words. Sentences of 2-3 words used regularly.
Using many different consonants correctly but may still substitute one sound for another such as
"d" for "g" or "t" for "k." They may be able to make consonant sounds but use them incorrectly at times.

3 years
All vowel sounds can be produced correctly. 90% of 3 year olds can correctly use consonants: m, n, p, h, w.

4 years
90% of 4 year olds can correctly use the consonants: k,t,g,d,b,v,f

5 years
90% of 5 year olds can correctly use: y, ing

6 years
90% of 6 year olds can correctly produce: l, j, sh, wh, ch, zh (treasure)

7 years
90% of 7 year olds correctly use: r, s, z

8 years
90% of 8 year olds can correctly use: th, blends (pr, sl, sp,tr...)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Teaching Letters and Sounds to Preschoolers

When I work with children as young as three years old on correcting error sounds, I am very aware that because they are not yet readers, they do not have the same understanding of sounds and letters that older children have. Some children are aware of letters and may know the alphabet song. The connection between a letter and a sound is not typically something that children learn until they get to pre-k or kindergarten. Letters and sounds are different concepts and I think it's as important to teach the connection between the two as it is to teach the letters themselves.  All parents try to teach their children the alphabet song.  I think this is great.  What could make this even better is to be sure that they pair what the kids are singing to a picture of the letters as they are singing them.  If there is no concrete connection made between the auditory letter and the visual letter, then the children are just learning a random song.  All children should have an alphabet poster or chart of some kind that should be brought out when the ABC song is done.  They should be taught to touch each letter as they are singing it.  This will avoid that single "LMNOP" cluster that they clearly think is one word.  The same chart can be used when teaching the children that each letter makes a sound.  I like to use a song that I heard in the pre-k classroom with all of my kids in speech therapy.  I take the sound that they are targeting and put it in the song.  The song is to the tune of "hot cross buns" and it would go like this: "D says duh, D says duh, every letter makes a sound and D says duh."  This can be used with every sound.  I tend to use the short vowel sounds when doing the vowels, since when vowels are long  they say their own letter name. When doing vowels use short sounds "a" (as), "e" (bed), "i" (in), "o" (on), "u" (up).  These tend to be harder for kids to learn for reading and writing and any jump start is helpful.  The pre-k classroom picks one letter each week to target and then does activities all week with that sound. Art activities, searching for things that start with that sound etc.  I suggest that parents do the same thing.  As the weeks progress, you add to the length of the sound song and mix the letters up so they are not learned only in order.  This work on pairing sounds and letters will give your child a great jump on early reading skills.  We tend to forget that just because a child can sing the alphabet song does not mean that he  knows his sounds and letters.