Children start practicing their speech sounds by babbling when they are very young and this process will continue for the next few years of their lives. It is quite normal for children’s speech intelligibility to be limited when they are very young but as they grow older their intelligibility increases even if sometimes their sounds are not all correct. In fact, it is expected that children make some speech errors at different stages of their development. These errors are called ‘age appropriate’ and should resolve as they get to practice more of their language and speech sounds.
Speech consists of a series of speech organ movements in the mouth to produce speech sounds in the right place with the right manner.
E.g. In producing ‘u’ as in ‘food’, the lips are more rounded and tensed with the tongue retracted in higher position than in ‘foot’.
When a child has similar production pattern with typically developing children but of lower age group, he is considered to be speech delayed. A child with unclear pronunciation and error patterns that are different from that of typically developing children is considered to have articulation or phonological disorders.
Articulation disorders describe difficulties with the physical production of speech sounds.
Phonological disorders describe difficulties with producing sound patterns within the language(s) that a child uses.
Children with developmental dyspraxia have intact and functioning muscles. They have the ability to produce the correct speech sounds. However, the muscles cannot produce these sounds at will. They may struggle to produce certain sounds and their speech becomes unintelligible as the result.
If you have concerns with your child’s speech development, we recommend you seek the advice of a speech and language therapist so an in depth assessment can be completed.