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.