Friday, March 6, 2009

Speech Sound Development Guidelines

As a speech pathologist, I often have people asking me questions about their toddlers' and preschoolers' speech sound development. "Articulation" is the formal term for the ability to physically make consonant and vowel sounds that can be used alone and in combination with other sounds for the purpose of speech. All babies babble. This is the early sound play where we hope to hear a true word. It usually sounds like "ah-buh," "muh-muh-muh," and "ah-da." They will babble sounds that are in our language and some sounds that are not speech sounds. If a child doesn't babble, or if they babble and then stop babbling, their hearing should be assessed. For a typical child, speech sounds develop in a similar developmental manner. Although all children vary somewhat, we can hope to have children master the production of certain sounds by certain ages. Some children learn later sounds at a younger age and may sound like they have perfect speech by age 3. Others have sounds that aren't completely mature yet by age 5. Both of these examples are within the range of what is normal. Below are general guidelines for speech sound development. Your child may be a bit ahead or behind these guidelines and that's ok, as long as they continue to go through the stages in a near age approppriate time span. If you have any questions or worries, start with your pediatrician or local public health department and ask for a speech and language evaluation. Early intervention programs will be available to you if your child is delayed.
1-6 months
Vowel sounds are generally heard first. Soon there will be consonants, typically ones like "k" and "g" produced in the back of the mouth. Towards 6 months there may be csome combinations of consonants and vowels.
6 months
Makes a lot of different sounds such as laughing, gurgles and coos. Babble when alone and for attention.
8 months
May often use syllables ba, da, ka. They will try to imitate sounds and make four or even more different consonants.
10 months
They may use a syllable or use several in repetition such as "ba-ba-ba-ba." They may start saying "dada" or "mama." They will start using jargon which is babbling with intonation making it sound like a "sentence." They will also shout to gain attention.
12 months
By one year of age they will say two words in addition to "mama" and "dada" on a regular basis. They will try to imitate sounds and familiar words. Will start making sounds of familiar animals and environmental noises like motors. Hears well and can tell the difference between many sounds.
18 months
They will use 10-20 words and start combining 2 words like "all gone," "Mommy up."
Imitates sounds and words more easily and accurately.
24 months
Vocabulary growing fast..around 300 or more words. Sentences of 2-3 words used regularly.
Using many different consonants correctly but may still substitute one sound for another such as
"d" for "g" or "t" for "k." They may be able to make consonant sounds but use them incorrectly at times.
3 years
All vowel sounds can be produced correctly. 90% of 3 year olds can correctly use consonants: m, n, p, h, w.
4 years
90% of 4 year olds can correctly use the consonants: k,t,g,d,b,v,f
5 years
90% of 5 year olds can correctly use: y, ing
6 years
90% of 6 year olds can correctly produce: l, j, sh, wh, ch, zh (treasure)
7 years
90% of 7 year olds correctly use: r, s, z
8 years
90% of 8 year olds can correctly use: th, blends (pr, sl, sp,tr...)

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