What is a speech sound disorder?

Who is Asma Khanum at Chatterbug?
30th January 2019
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What is a speech sound disorder?

Speech sound disorder - chatterbug

If you’re worried about your child mispronouncing certain words and sounds, it’s possible they may have a speech sound disorder. But what does this mean? Find out here.

Every child takes a while to fully learn how to speak. From just being able to pronounce simple sounds, they will develop their speaking abilities but still struggle to pronounce certain syllables or complex words. Eventually, it is expected that your child will be able to say every sound in English with no issue. When they struggle much longer than expected, this could be a sign of speech sound disorder.

Every child takes a while to fully learn how to speak. From just being able to pronounce simple sounds, they will develop their speaking abilities but still struggle to pronounce certain syllables or complex words. Eventually, it is expected that your child will be able to say every sound in English with no issue.

Don’t worry

However, sometimes this doesn’t end up being the case. Most children can speak all the sounds in the English language by the age of eight, but some cannot. If your child belongs to this latter group, it may well be the case that they have a speech sound disorder.

This simply means that your child has difficulty forming some of the individual sounds that make up the English language. This could be because of a disorder like autism, it could be due to hearing loss, or there may not be a clear reason at all.

Speech sound disorders can be spotted fairly early, using a few landmarks in a child’s development to judge how far along they are in their speech and language skills. For example, children should be able to laugh and make happy noises by the age of five months, and pronounce simple sounds like “puh” and “da” by six months.

What to look for

By the time they are one year old, a child would be expected to be able to string together repeating syllables, such as “dadada”. This is sometimes called ‘babbling’. When your child is three, they should be able to use the m, h, w, p, b, t, d, k, g and f sounds in words, and by the age of four they should add y and v to that list.

If your child is slightly late to develop one or more of these, there’s no need to immediately worry. Children develop at different rates, and the milestones listed above are just averages. However, while children are likely to make many speech mistakes while they are very young, it’s right to be concerned if those errors continue as they get older.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can treat a speech sound disorder. Speech and language practitioners can help your child learn how to pronounce sounds correctly, depending on the initial cause of the disorder. If your child seems to be struggling with their speech, why not give us a call or contact us and see how we can help?

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