MAY IS BETTER HEARING AND SPEECH MONTH
What Did You Say?
Written by Dorothy P, Dougherty,
MA, CCC-SLP, Speech/Language Pathologist
May, Better Hearing and Speech Month, is a great time to take a close
look at your child's ability to speak clearly. Learning to say all
sounds correctly is a gradual process and often a young child's
pronunciation of sounds is endearing and not a cause for concern.
However, if your child's speech sounds significantly different from
his age peers, or he frequently avoids talking because he is hard to
understand, he may have a speech sound disorder.
Articulation disorders, difficulty saying speech sounds correctly, is
identified in approximately one million preschool children each year.
Research suggests that problems with articulation, if left unchecked,
can lead to reading and spelling difficulties, social challenges, and
What Did You Say?
Below you will find guidelines or the predictable order that many
children develop their ability to speak clearly. You should be able
to answer yes to the questions listed below that pertain to your child's
1. Do you understand approximately 25 percent of what your
eighteen-month-old child is saying?
2. Do you understand approximately 60 -75 percent of what your two-year-old
child is saying?
3. Do family members and caregivers understand your
three-year-old child's speech? Does he correctly produce vowels and
such sounds as: p/, /b/, /m/, and /w/ in words. Does he repeat, when
not understood, without becoming frustrated?
4. Do people with whom you do not associate with regularly
understand your four-year-old child when he speaks? Does he correctly
produce the /t/, /d/, /k/, /g/ and /f/ sounds?
5. Is your five-year-old child's speech understood my most
listeners in all situations?
6. Is your child, who is eight to nine years of age, able to
make all the
sounds of his language correctly, including /r/, /s/, /z/, and consonantal
blends (For example: /pl/, /tr/, /st/, and /sk/).
Are you Helping Your Child Learn to Talk?
The strongest resource any child can have is a well-informed parent
who knows which speech sounds are normal, which are not, and
how to help a child say speech sounds when they are developmentally
ready. Review the following questions and answers, and take a close
look at how you interact with your child.
As most children mature, their overall speech
patterns usually become more understandable. However, some children
need speech therapy. A speech/language pathologist is trained to
assess, treat, and help prevent speech and language problems in
children (beginning at birth) and adults. This professional may work
in a variety of settings, including colleges or universities,
hospitals or medical clinics, local public schools, and private
offices. It is certainly not necessary or wise to wait until you
child is in kindergarten to seek help. If your child meets state
requirements, your local school district or county health department
is required to provide appropriate free services for children from
birth to five years of age.
To find a private speech/language pathologist
close to your home, you can look in the yellow pages, call the
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (1-800-638-8255), or go
to the ASHA website www.asha.org and click on "Find a Professional." This will certainly set
your mind at ease if you learn your child is developing as he should,
or getting help, at an early age, will make treatment easier. You can
relax and have fun helping your child reach his true potential.
This book teaches the parents of children with articulation problems
how speech sounds develop, how to recognize developing speech
problems, and how to help children make the most out of speech
therapy. It also provides parents with activities to increase their
child's language and articulation skills.
About the Author
Dorothy P. Dougherty, MA, CCC-SLP is a speech/language pathologist
who has worked with children and adults in school, clinical and
private settings for over 25 years.
She is the author of How to Talk to Your Baby: A Guide to
Maximizing Your Child's Language and Learning Skills (Perigee/Putnam,
2001) and Teach Me How to Say it Right: Helping Your Child with
Articulation Problems to be released June, 2005, by New Harbinger
Other Articles by Dorothy P. Doughertys