Leaps and Sounds
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Children develop sounds as they age. As they get older, their speech becomes easier to understand. They also begin to use more sounds correctly. Can only close relatives understand your child? Do you act as a "translator" to unfamiliar listeners? Does your child's speech seem "immature" or "baby-ish" for their age? Children who are difficult to understand may have an articulation delay/disorder. Only a speech-language pathologist can formally assess your child's speech and sound patterns to determine if there is a problem or not. Some examples of specific articulation disorders are below.
speech sound substitutions: one sound is consistently switched for another (i.e. "sip" for ship).
phonological processing delays: a whole group of sounds is substituted for another (i.e. all "g" and "k" sounds become "d" or "t", as in "tat" for cat and "dou" for go).
childhood apraxia of speech (CAS): this is a rare motor planning disorder when the muscles don't consistently follow the brain's plan for what to say. A common trait of CAS is a child saying the same word differently each time.
When exactly should you expect your child to have certain sounds and be understood by others? Check it out below!
McLeod, S. & Crowe, K. (2018). Children's consonant acquisition in 27 languages: A cross-linguistic review. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. doi: 10.1044/2018_AJSLP-17-0100. Available from: https://ajslp.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?articleid=2701897