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It can be frustrating when your child is mispronouncing or not producing a sound consistently. It can be even more overwhelming as a parent when you or other listeners in the child’s life are having significant trouble understanding what they have to say. There are many speech milestones that exist with different ranges for acquiring specific speech sounds. This can often confuse parents as they remain unsure if it is time to target a sound. This is why numerous factors need to be considered while also thinking about speech sounds by age.
The first thing that a parent needs to be aware of is “can I understand what my child is saying and how much can I understand?” This is usually referenced as the child’s intelligibility, or ability to be understood by others. Generally, the more speech sound errors that exist, the more likely that intelligibility will be reduced. Below you can find the 4 expectations of intelligibility for children, as explained by Caroline Bowens.
The bilabial (using both lips) sounds are first to emerge and you will notice them in babbling when the child will start saying “papa” and “baba”. These sounds require air to be released as a burst while rounding the lips. So if a child has weakness in their lips or uses the nose instead of mouth on oral or non-nasal sounds (hypernasality), these sounds will present as challenging.
Below is a list of when individual sounds or phonemes should be mastered by. It's important to remember that this is just a reference point as a list and many other lists of speech acquisition will have ranges that differ. Some sounds take longer for some than for others to acquire, which is why a holistic and dynamic assessment needs to be used when examining these sounds.
The following is the age by which 75% of children uses the speech sound listed accurately.
If after reviewing this and you are concerned with your child’s speech sound acquisition, you can book an appointment with a speech and language professional for an assessment. At noala, we offer a free 10 minute discovery call with a speech professional for support and also conduct these assessments to determine if speech and language is warranted.
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