Speech production disorders are expressed as an inability to correctly articulate sounds. Every child makes mistakes as they learn to pronounce a language, but these mistakes are usually self-corrected with time and practice. A child with a speech production disorder remains unable to pronounce sounds correctly past a certain age.
What Does a Speech Production Disorder Sound Like?
Common expressions of speech production disorders are:
Replacing sounds made in the back of the mouth for sounds made in the front of the mouth. For example, saying “dups” instead of “cups.”
Replacing sounds made in the front of the mouth for sounds made in the back of the mouth. For example, saying “gag” instead of “dad.”
Consistently leaving sounds out of words. For example, saying “ghetti” instead of “spaghetti” or “ayground” instead of “playground.”
There are different milestones for when children should be able to pronounce certain sounds. By age 3 a child should be 90% intelligible by both familiar (family members) and unfamiliar listeners (people in the community). Mild articulation problems should resolve themselves around second grade. Working with a speech-language therapist, the overwhelming majority of children overcome their speech production disorders easily and thoroughly.
What a Speech Production Disorder Is Not
Just because a child produces sounds that are atypical does not necessarily mean they have a speech disorder. Children with accents or children whose parents have accents, for instance, are more likely to pronounce words a little differently than their peers. Varied accents are a natural and beautiful part of language.
Likewise, people who speak certain dialects have specific differences in the pronunciation of some words. For example, people who speak the dialect African American Vernacular English (AAVE) may say “dis” instead of “this.” People speaking the dialect Hawaiian Pidgin or Eastern New England English are both more likely to say “cah” instead of “car.” Children using the dialects of their families or communities do not have a speech production disorder.
The distinction of speech disorders is that the child is incapable of making certain sounds or forming certain words, despite being trained to say those words a certain way.
Typical Speech Development
The chart displays typically developing speech for English speaking children. If your child is not producing the sounds indicated in their age range, schedule an appointment with us.
We perform all evaluations in your home, and make the process comfortable and easy for each child. Most of the activities they will do are play-based.
After conversing with the child, our speech-language pathologist conducts an oral peripheral exam to verify that the mouth muscles are working correctly. The child may also take a formal articulation test. If the pathologist determines speech therapy is needed, she will work with you to arrange a program tailored to your child’s age and skill level. Some programs are focused on training for sound articulation, while others are focused on training the child to recognize the differences between sounds.