How do you know if your child’s speech difficulties are developmental or disordered? There are many speech sound development charts and guidelines online that can provide you with normative information on sound development. However, I have found this chart to be the most useful:
What sounds should your child be able to produce by 3-years-old?
P, B, M, H, W, and B
What sounds should your child be able to produce by 4-years-old?
K, G, T, F, and Y
What sounds should your child be able to produce by 6-years-old?
D, NG (as in “wing”), R, and L
What sounds should your child be able to produce by 7-years-old?
CH (as in “chin”), SH (as in “shoe”), J, and voiceless TH (as in “thumb”)
What sounds should your child be able to produce by 8-years-old?
S, Z, V, voiced TH (as in “the”), and ZH (as in “measure”).
Keep in mind that this sound chart represents when 90% of all children are typically producing the sound. If your child has passed the age when he/she should be producing a certain sound, then you may want to reach out to a speech-language pathologist (SLP). It is typical for young children to have many sound errors, however, if it’s very difficult to understand your child, even if the sound errors are appropriate, you may want to seek guidance from an SLP as well.
Hearing and Speech
It is important to remember that hearing is a huge factor in being able to accurately produce sounds. If you’re not able to hear a sound correctly, you won’t be able to produce it correctly. If you have concerns regarding your child’s speech development, have his/her pediatrician conduct a hearing screening. Even a little bit of fluid in the ears could cause your child to have difficulty appropriately producing sounds. Your child should not receive any type of speech therapy until a recent hearing screening has been conducted.