In May, we celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month. Each week we will bring you some pertinent and useful speech and hearing-related information from our team of fabulous speech therapists.
This week, we focus on articulation skills and developmental fluency.
Ideas for articulation skills
- According to ASHA, children should have a mastery of all English sounds by the age of 8.
- It is quite common in young children to have speech errors when learning to speak.
- An articulation disorder is when your child has difficulty creating or forming speech sounds correctly. Sounds may be omitted or improperly altered during the course of speech.
- The most common articulation disorders are ‘lisps’ when the ‘s’ sound is incorrectly produced or when a child substitutes a ‘w’ for an ‘r’ sound.
- Most articulation disorders present themselves when your child is between the ages of three and six. (ASHA.org or speechbuddies.com)
Ideas for fluency
- 5% of all children are likely to be disfluent at some point in their development.
- Between 2.5 to 5 years of age are the typical ages to see developmental stuttering.
- It is typical for children to go back and forth between periods of fluent and non-fluent speech.
- When children are expanding their vocabulary quickly and learning complex language skills, it’s natural to see and hear some disruptions along the way
- For most toddlers and preschoolers, most disfluencies go away on their own after a short period of time.
- Risk factors for stuttering include family history, boys are twice as likely to stutter, elementary school-age boys are 3-4 times more likely than girls; children will start having difficulty at age four are more likely to have a persistent stutter than those who begin at a younger age; if a child has a co-existing speech and/or language disorder increases the likelihood a child may stutter.
Typical speech patterns for toddlers and preschoolers:
- Repeating phrases (he took it-he took it from me) and whole words (But-but I don’t want to go.) Using filler words/sounds (um, uh, like)
- No tension or physical struggle when speaking No other problematic behaviors when speaking No negative reaction or frustration
- No family history of stuttering Disfluencies last less than six months Not typical (higher risk for stuttering)
- Repeating sounds or syllables (look at the b-b-b-baby) Sound prolongations (Sssssssssssometimes we stay home.)
- Blocks (child appears to be trying to make a sound but cannot) and/or physical struggle when speaking
- “Secondary” behaviors that go along with speaking difficulty (such as hand tapping, eye blinking, or throat clearing
- Negative reaction or frustration to speaking
- Family history of stuttering
- Disfluencies last longer than six months
What parents can do:
Reduce communication stress: these are techniques to put less pressure on a child in a speaking situation. Rephrasing questions as comments (You played outside today at school. It must have been fun; instead of What did you do at school?)
Talk about it: When a child is aware of their stuttering, it’s best to be open and talk about it in a positive way. Tell them it’s ok to have ‘bumpy speech.’ If the child doesn’t seem to have a problem, there is not reason to bring it up.
Practice patience: Give the child time to finish what they are saying. Don’t rush or interrupt them. Don’t tell them to ‘slow down,’ or ‘think about what you want to say.’ Phrases such as these don’t help.
Model good speech habits: parents can model speech habits that help with stuttering, such as slowing down their own speed when speaking, putting in more pauses between sentences and speaking in a relaxed manner.