Welcome back to another school year! I am excited to start another year as a Speech Pathologist in the public schools. One of the first few things that a Speech Pathologist will often give teachers or parents is a table that lists general speech sound development. This allows them to get a general idea of their student or child’s speech development and refer to the Speech Pathologist should they have any concerns. Based on the Goldman Fristoe, Test of Articulation 2003, these are the ages that a child is expected to master certain sounds:
Age 3: p, b, m, w, h, n
Age 4: t, d, k, g, y, f
Age 6: v, sh, zh, l, th (voiced), ng
Age 7: s, z, r, the (voiceless), ch, j, wh, and blends dz
In California, preschool and kindergarten students qualify for public school therapy if they are 6 months delayed. For grade school children, usually they need to be one year delayed to qualify for public school therapy. With this said, there are also other factors that a therapist will consider when qualifying or disqualifying a student for speech therapy. Other factors include: other disabilities presented with articulation, whether the child is an English language learner, and whether there have been informal strategies taken to address this need within the child’s natural context. Your Speech Pathologist can give you specific information for your child’s school site and environment.
Children with speech delays need extra modeling and repetition to help them learn their sounds and words. Here are a couple of very effective speech therapy techniques to help your child pick up more of what you are saying to him:
Verbal exaggeration: Exaggerate the sound that you want your child to be able to say. For example, if your child is learning to say the “m” sound, you can say “mmmm”
Verbal Chaining: Model the words you want your child to say, one word at a time. For example, say: “I (pause for child to say imitate you)-want (pause again for your child to imitate)-cookie (pause once more for you child to imitate you).” This is one of the best ways to help your child learn how to start saying phrases and sentences. Once your child becomes able to retain more words spoken, you can try to say two words at a time, while having him imitate you.
The American-Speech-Language Hearing Association has an excellent chart to assist parents in monitoring the speech and language growth of their children, from birth to 5 years of age. Please refer to the following URL to access this information:
Parents who have children diagnosed with a Speech or Language Disorder may be overwhelmed and confused about various terms used during professional meetings. Here are some common terms that you may run into if your child is being assessed or receives speech therapy services:
Communication Disorder: A broad term used to encompass difficulties with communication, which can include difficulties with speech or language. These terms will be explained below.
Speech: A term used to refer to the verbal means of communicating, which can include articulation, voice or fluency.
- Articulation: A term used to refer to the way that a person articulates or pronounces sounds. For example, a child with articulation difficulties may say “tup” for the word “cup.”
- Voice: A term used to refer to the way that a person is using his voice to communicate. For example, a person who is abusing his voice may have a hoarse, cracky, or breathy voice.
- Fluency: A term used to refer to how rythmic or smooth a person’s speech is. A person who stutters consistently may be considered a disfluent speaker.
Language: A broad term used to identify children who may have difficulty understanding language (receptive language) or using language (expressive language). This can include difficulties understanding or expressing words, or how to put words together to make a sentence. This encompasses verbal communication and alternative means of communication, such as sign language.
- Receptive Language: A term used to refer to how well a person understands or comprehends language.
- Expressive Language: A term used to refer to how well a person can express himself through the use of language.
Pragmatics: A term used to refer to how a person uses language within a social context. Difficulties with pragmatics may include difficulties with conversational turn taking, topic maintenance, or eye contact during interactions with others.