The Sounds of Speech

     Most children learn to use different speech sounds by fairly predictable ages. A four or five year old child who is distorting a sound -- saying "wabbit" for "rabbit", or "thikth" for "six", is not nearly as worrisome as if he is leaving quite a few sounds out -- saying "a-uh" for "water", or "tuh" for "cup".

     It isn't unusual for three year olds, especially boys, to be "non-fluent", and six months later, be fine.  However,  if a child is becoming stressed by these problems, or if stuttering continues, intervention may be appropriate -- certainly you should consult a speech pathologist.

     Ear infections are often accompanied by significant, sometimes temporary, sometimes permanent hearing loss, which will definitely delay learning. Don't ignore a child who cries and rubs his ears, or doesn't seem to hear you.

     It is better to ask than to wonder. In our area, neighborhood school speech pathologists can also work with three to five year olds whose problems are serious enough to qualify according to Idaho state guidelines.

children should use these sounds 
in words by these approximate ages
Dragon looking left
by 3 yrs  by 4 yrs by 6 yrs by 7 yrs by 8 yrs
p, m, h, n, w  b,d, k, g, f, y  t, ng, l  ch, sh, j, th  s, z, v, th, zh, r 

Check these articulation references:
Articulation, ages of development
Articulation, Frequently Asked Questions
Lisping, S & Z are hard to say.
A detailed explanation of Articulation or Phonological problems ??

Developmental Apraxia, aka oral motor planning disorder, verbal dyspraxia, developmental articulatory dyspraxia...Excerpts from "Let's Talk", by Diane Paul-Brown and Roseanne Clausen - ASHA 11/99.

"A child with developmental apraxia of speech as trouble correctly producing and sequencing sounds, syllables and words. Generally, there is nothing wrong with the muscles of the face, tongue, lips, and jaw. The problem is thought to arise from difficulty accessing the "motor plan" from the brain for saying a sound or a word."

"Signs that can indicate Developmental Apraxia of Speech.
. . in very young children -- does not 'coo' or babble as an infant. -- produces some first words after some delay, but the words are missing phonemes (sounds) or have difficult phonemes replaced with easier ones. -- produces relatively few different consonant sounds. -- is unsuccessful at combining phonemes. -- simplifies words by replacing or deleting difficult phonemes. -- may have feeding problems.
. . in older children -- makes inconsistent sound errors that are not the result of immaturity, e.g., uses a favored syllable for all words, uses a real or nonsense word in place of other words, or leaves out sounds when speaking. -- can understand language better than he or she can produce it. -- difficulty imitating speech. -- may appear to be searching for something when he or she tries to produce sounds or coordinate the articulators. -- has greater difficulty saying longer phrases. -- ability to speak appears to be affected by anxiety. -- listener has difficulty understanding the child."
More information is available:
SLP Front
Early Learning

Email us -- clouss (at)