What might indicate your child has speech difficulties?

Children learn to say speech sounds at different ages.  Here is a list of the ages at which most Australian children are able to say each speech sound correctly in a single word:      

  • 3 years – m, n, h, p, ng (as in sing), w, d, t, y (as in yes), b, g, k
  • 3 ½ years – f     
  • 4 years – l, sh, ch    
  • 4 ½ years - s, z, j
  • 6 years – v, consonant blends (for example, spot, bread, clue, jump)
  • 8 years – voiced th (as in this and mother)     
  • 8 ½ years – voiceless th (as in thumb and teeth) 


An articulation difficulty occurs when a child cannot pronounce a particular speech sound correctly.  Sometimes this is due to a problem with the mouth or nose (for example, a child who has a cleft palate or tongue tie could have difficulties with some sounds).  However, most articulation difficulties have no obvious physical cause. The most common articulation difficulty is a ‘lisp’ (that is, difficulties saying the s and z sounds).  It is normal for children under eight years of age to say some sounds differently to adults. 


Children with dyspraxia have difficulties co-ordinating mouth movements for speech, even though they are able to suck and swallow effectively.  Children with dyspraxia characteristically:

  • make inconsistent errors (for example, they say words a different way each time)
  • make errors that are not typical of slow speech development (that is, they do not sound like younger children)
  •  use ‘searching’ mouth movements when they speak (for example, they try several tongue placements before saying a word)
  • have difficulties making fast, alternating mouth movements (for example, when saying words of more than one syllable, such as buttercup).

Most children with unclear speech do not have dyspraxia. A speech pathology assessment is needed to determine whether a child has dyspraxia.

Contact us for more information.