(Also known as Articulation, Phonology or Pronunciation)

The sounds that children use in their speech develop at particular ages and stages during their early years. However, for some children, this development doesn’t happen in the normal way and as a result these children can be hard to understand, may use sounds which are obviously incorrect, or may sound ‘younger’ than others of the same age. Children having difficulty with their speech development may need assistance to learn to pronounce the sounds that they are not yet using correctly.

Often the first clue that parents get that their child’s speech is not developing in the usual way is that they may notice that other people who do not know their child so well, have trouble understanding him/her. Parents may also begin to notice that their child is showing frustration at not being understood.

The following chart gives an estimation of the approximate ages at which the various speech sounds typically develop:

Age Sounds
2 - 2½ yrs p b m h w
2½ - 3½ n ‘ng’ t d k g ‘y’
3½ - 4 f
4 - 5 l ‘sh’ ‘ch’ ‘j’ ‘s’ ‘z’
5 - 8 r v ‘th’ 
4 - 6 sp sm sw sn st sl sk pr br fr tr dr kr gr tw kw pl bl fl kl gl

If slower, or unusual, sound development is a problem, a speech pathologist will assess the underlying reason, and plan therapy for helping both child and parent, understand the pattern of sound errors, the features of the sounds which need to be taught to the child, and the sequence of steps which will support the child to be able to learn how to use those sounds in words and in his/her everyday talking. Even very young children can benefit from therapy.