Acquiring speech sounds is like climbing a ladder. There are lots of steps on this ladder. The first step may have the sounds b, d. And these are the sounds and babbling you hear first at approximately 6-9 months e.g. babababa. That’s one of the reasons you may hear your child say “Dada” before “Mama” (Sorry Dads out there!).
There are different types of difficulties that a child can present with when they have trouble pronouncing a word. He / she can present with difficulties with articulation and / or phonology.
Articulation is when a child cannot pronounce the sound and so has to be taught how to, e.g. they speak with an “interdental s” (a lisp). This is when the child sticks his / her tongue out to form a “th” sound instead of an “s” e.g. “thun” for “sun”.
Phonology is when a child can pronounce the sound but can’t always say it correctly in a word e.g. your child might say “tat” for “cat”.
A child may produce age appropriate speech sound errors. For example it is ok if you child says wabbit for rabbit at age 3 because you can see from the chart that a child may not be able to produce this sound correctly in a word until they are over 6 years old.
So as children are learning to speak we can expect errors in their sound production. But what we need to do is look at:
So if your child says “Mommy look at the tat” you would respond “Wow Tommy that is a really big cat isn’t it?” i.e. you are saying the incorrectly pronounced word (cat) correctly so your child can hear it the correctly pronounced way. Your child can also see how you are forming the word with your mouth.
It is best not to correct your child when he / she mispronounces a word e.g. “no it’s not tat; say cat”. Your child probably thinks he is saying it the correct way so this may be very confusing and upsetting for him/her.
Reading books are a lovely focused way to work on pronunciation as you are naturally modelling the correct pronunciation of words and working on vocabulary too.
Ask your child to show you what he / she is talking about i.e. point to what he wants and then you can label the word “oh you want juice”.
Encourage your child to talk slowly and make sure he / she knows you are listening.
Ask some questions to try and figure out what he /she might be talking about e.g. “did it happen in school today?”
It is important to ensure your child is not presenting with any hearing difficulty as this can affect his / her pronunciation. If you have any concerns and especially if he / she has suffered from multiple ear infections you may wish to have their hearing assessed by an Audiologist.
Finally, here are my 5 Top Tips if you have concerns about your child’s speech:
1. Check if your child has a delay of more than 6 months based on the timeline chart.
2. Check if your child is getting frustrated about not being able to get his / her point across.
3. Check if your child may need a hearing assessment.
4. Go with your gut! Parents always know best and will know if their child needs extra help!
5. Contact a Speech and Language Therapist for advice and / or assessment.
|Article provided by Ade Byrne, Private Speech & Language Therapist|
Ade is a fully qualified Speech and Language Therapist with current membership of the Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists (IASLT). Ade graduated from University College Dublin with a Bachelor Degree in Social Science in 2001. In addition she received a Master’s Degree in Speech and Language Therapy from the University of Limerick in 2005. Over the course of her professional education, Ade has gained a substantial amount of experience working with paediatrics with varying communication difficulties.
If you would like a free telephone consultation or are looking for an appointment you can contact Ade on 0868602485 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org