Speech Sounds are also referred to as Phonology.

 

This tends to be the area that most people are familiar with, we all know the child that says their sounds incorrectly. It’s very typical in young children as they learn to talk and people often think it’s cute until they start to get older and they still can’t understand what the child is saying and frustrations begin to emerge on either side as the message is not being conveyed clearly.

There are typical milestones that as Speech and Language Therapists we look for in terms of phonology development, This table shows the developmental norms for speech sound development and some typical errors at each age. If you notice your child is still make some errors from the previous age group after 6 months then you can seek SLT support. However, it is typical not to work with a child until they are around 2.5-3 for speech sound work, This is due to children needing a certain level of comprehension to be able to follow the therapy sessions for working on speech sound production.

Age

Sounds able to produce in words

Typical speech sound errors *these will be described below

0-6 months

The baby is making cooing sounds (oo, ee, ah) and turns towards sound and gives eye contact when they hear an adult speaking or making sounds

none

6-12 months

The baby starts to babble and repeat sounds (e.g. mamama)

none

1-3 years

p,b,m,n,t,d

Voicing

Stopping

Final Consonant Deletion

Velar and Palatal fronting

Weak Syllable deletion

Assimilation

Consonant Cluster Reduction

De affrication

Gliding

Voiceless Th – f (thank you)

Voiced th – v (with)

3-4 years

p,b,m,n,t,d,k,g,f,s,y,h

Weak Syllable deletion

Assimilation

Consonant Cluster Reduction

De affrication

Gliding

Voiceless Th – f (thank you)

Voiced th – v (with)

Their speech may be unclear to unfamiliar adults

4-5 years

p,b,m,n,t,d,k,g,f,s,y,h,sh,ch,j,z,l,v

De affrication

Gliding

Voiceless Th – f (thank you)

Voiced th – v (with)

5-6 years

Speech should be mostly clear and easy to understand

Gliding

Voiceless Th – f (thank you)

Voiced th – v (with)

some immaturities may still be noted e.g. r and th sounds

7 Years+

The child should be able to produce all sounds clearly and be understood by all.

6 – 7 difficulties with the th sounds may still be evident.

 

Speech Sound Errors

  • Voicing- This is where sounds made with no voice are replaced with voiced sounds (e.g. “car” becomes ‘gar’, “tea” becomes ‘dea’)
  • Stopping- This is where sounds made with a long airflow are replaced by sounds made with a stopped airflow (e.g. “sea” becomes ‘tea’, “shoe” becomes ‘to’)
  • Final consonant deletion- The ends of words are often missed out (e.g. “tap” = ‘ta’)
  • Velar Fronting- This is where sounds made with the tongue hitting the back of the mouth (e.g. /k/ and /g/) are replaced with sounds made at the front of the mouth (e.g. /t/ and /d/) so “car” becomes ‘tar’, “key” becomes ‘tea’
  • Palatal Fronting- This is where the tongue is moved forward in the mouth so the ‘sh’ sound becomes a /s/ sound
  • Weak Syllable Deletion- This is where non-stressed syllables are deleted from words (e.g. “elephant” becomes ‘ephant’)
  • Assimilation- The pronunciation of the whole word is influenced by the presence of a particular sound in the word (e.g. “dog” become ‘gog‘)
  • Consonant Cluster Reduction- This is where clusters of consonants in words are reduced by one or more consonants (e.g. ‘brick’ becomes ‘bick’, “clown” becomes ‘cown’)
  • De-affrication- This is where the affricate sounds ‘sh’, ‘ch’ and ‘j’ are replaced with fricative sounds (‘sh’, /s/, /z/ or ??’) or the /t/ or /d/ sound
  • Gliding- This is where the /l/ and the /r/ sounds are replaced with the /w/ or the ‘y’ sound
  • The voiceless ‘th’ sound (as in ‘thank you’) is replaced with a /f/ sound
  • The voiced ‘th’ sound (as in ‘with‘) is replaced with a /v/ sound

 

How can I support my child:

When talking with your child model correct speech sound production. Where they make errors, don’t push for them to repeat it back correctly but repeat their sentence back to them using the correct production. E.g ‘the /tat/ says miaow’ respond with ‘yes the cat says miaow’.

Play sound games when reading books/playing posting games – find me something that begins with ‘x’. Pay attention to if they can’t hear the sound correctly as well as not producing the sound correctly. If the child can’t hear the sound correctly they will find it harder to produce it properly and so they will need to work on listening to sounds first.

Games to play with your child:

Reading books – get them to point to pictures starting with sounds or as they get older to listen to the end of words and identify words that end with a certain sound,

Posting games – posting pictures that start/end with sounds. Get your child to give instructions too and pretend to get it wrong from time to time and see if they notice.

There are lots of sound/word games out in the shops to buy that will support working on speech sounds at home through games. Orchard Hill have lots of fun games that children won’t even realise they’re working on their speech sounds. I use lots in my therapy sessions.

 

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