When to seek help for speech sound disorders?

Speech is the ability to use your lips, tongue and other parts of your mouth to produce sounds. To produce clear speech children need to be able to produce the different sounds of speech, as well as understand the rules for putting those sounds together in their language.

Most children have mastered the following sounds by the following ages:

  • around 3 years: b, p, m, n, h, d, k, g, ng (sing), t, w, f, y
  • around 4-5 years: f, sh, zh, ch, j, s
  • around 6 years: l, r, v
  • around 7-8 years: th, z

Most children make mistakes in their speech during the first few years of speech development. But by about three years, most children can be understood by their main caregivers.

If you’re worried that your child might have a speech disorder, think about how often people who don’t know your child have trouble understanding your child.

  • around 2 years about 50% of your child’s speech should be understood by a stranger
  • around 3 years about 75% of your child’s speech should be understood by a stranger
  • around 4 years about 100% of your child’s speech should be understood by a stranger

It’s best to consider seeking help if your child:

  • is six months or more behind the approximate age ranges for using speech sounds
  • uses speech patterns that are delayed for his/her age, or speech sounds that are immature compared with peers
  • gets frustrated about speaking – for example, he/she gets upset when he/she isn’t understood and has to repeat himself/ herself frequently.