Thursday, May 1, 2008

How to tell if your child has a speech problem

Children all develop at different rates and other children should not be used to compare your child’s speech development. One child may be able to properly us P or M at 1/1/2 years and another may not until they are 3 years old. To be able to figure out how your child is doing with speech you need to know what are realistic expectations, and when to get help. It is important to identify problems with speech as soon as possible and find out if it is a delay or a disability. They are treated differently, but if a delay is not caught in time it can be seen as a disability. The sooner a delay is identified and treated the easer it is bring that child up to the same leave as their peers.

The first thing you need to know is when should a child be able to make specific sounds. How can you tell where your child is in speech if you don’t know where your child should be? More often then not we the parents will either have unrealistic expectations and think our child should be further then they are, or we will not realize that our child needs help because we are used to the way they speak and can understand them. Please take a look at the sound list below and the time lines on it and see where your child is and where they should be.

The second thing you need to know is when to start looking for ways to help your child if they don’t have a sound yet. This is usually about the half point of an age rage children are expected to have the sound by. For example P is between 1 ½ to 3 years so if your child is two and a few months and does not have it then you need to start helping them develop that sound. However if your child still does not have it at the far end of the age range then you need to start looking to find out if your child needs some help, are they delayed or have a hearing issue, do they need speech therapy.

Sounds are learned at different ages depending on how difficult they are to say. The chart below shows the age range during which each sound is learned.

Sounds Can start as early as (in years)
Time to help if not using sound yet (in years)
Should be using thesound
in words at all times (in years)

P (pin) 1 ½ years Between 2 and 2 ½ 3 years
M (monkey) 1 ½ Between 2 and 2 ½
H (hat) 1 ½ Between 2 and 2 ½ 3
N (nail) 1 ½ Between 2 and 2 ½ 3
W (wagon) 1 ½ 2 ½ 3 ½
B (ball) 1 ½ Between 3 and 3 ½ 4
K (kite) 2 3 4
G (girl) 2 3 4
D (dog) 2 3 4
T (toe) 2 4 6
Ng (Wing) 2 4 6
F (finger) 2 ½ Between 3 and 3 ½ 4
Y (yo-yo) 2 ½ Between 3 and 3 ½ 4
R (rabbit) 3 4 ½ 6
L (lamb) 3 4 ½ 6
S (sun) 3 5 ½ 8
CH (chick) 3 ½ 5 7
SH (shoe) 3 ½ 5 7
Z (zipper) 3 ½ Between 5 and 5 ½ 8
J (juice) 4 5 ½ 7
V (vase) 3 5 ½ 8
Th (thumb) 4 ½ Between 5 ½ and 6 7
TH (feather) 5 6 ½ 8
ZH (treasure) 6 Between 7 and 7 ½ 8 ½

If you think your child may need some help but don’t know how to help them get these sounds, or if they are and the end of the age range and still don’t have the sounds please check out the Early Words website. They have information to help you and more.

Early Words is the umbrella organization of Hamilton's preschool speech and language services for young children. Parents, childcare providers and other professionals working with young children can call for information about children's speech and language development and workshops. They have a web site,, which will let you compare your child’s development from 3 months to 6 years with what is considered to be normal development. They can tell you what you can do to help your child develop.

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