Speech - the ability to pronounce the sounds in words - develops gradually over the preschool period and beyond. Initially children will use a small range of consonant sounds and these should increase as the child develops. Feel free to download my leaflet describing the expected development of consonant sounds.
When to seek help
Many young children simplify words, replacing more difficult to produce sounds with easier ones (e.g. saying 'tun' for "sun"). As they develop these simplification processes should stop. A list of normal simplification processes expected at each age can be seen here.
I work with children who have difficulty producing consonant or vowel sounds accurately and children who continue to simplify words beyond the ages expected. As a guide you should seek help for your child if he/she is:
- Not using'b', 'd', 'm','n' and 'w' accurately in words by 2 years of age
- Not using 'p','b','t','d','m','n','w' accurately in words by 3 years of age
- Missing off the final or initial sounds of words when over 3 years of age
- Not using 'p','b','t','d','m','n','w', 's', 'f' 'z','v' accurately in words by 3½ years of age
- Not using 'p','b','t','d','m','n','w', 's', 'f' 'z','v', 'sh', 'k','g' accurately in words by 4 years of age
- Consistently using incorrect vowel sounds (e.g. bar for "bee") at any age
- Using sounds not normally heard in the English language at any age
- Not able to use consonant clusters (e.g. sp in spider, tr in train) by 4 years of age
I am always happy to have an informal discussion to advise on whether your child needs an assessment. Also see the talkingpoint website here for more information and a progress tracker
What I offer
- I use a number of evidence-based techniques including Meaningful Minimal Contrast Therapy, Focused Auditory Stimulation, Core vocabulary and the Nuffield Dyspraxia Programme. See here for details of these therapy techniques and summaries of research studies which demonstrate their effectiveness.
- In most cases I would suggest booking a block of 6 - 10 sessions. In the first session targets will be jointly agreed which will then be worked towards in future sessions.
- Home practice is vital for progress and each week you will get a personalised homework sheet to fill in - I use the child's interest to provide added motivation and it gives you a record of what you need to do.
- I liaise with your child's education setting, with your consent, and provide them a pack with targets and activities to support progress towards the targets.
- Following the initial block of therapy there will usually be a short break for the child to consolidate the gains they have made followed by a review session at which we assess progress and decide upon next steps.
- The key with this type of therapy is providing many different exciting ways of getting your child to practice producing the target sounds - I have a lot of activities, games and ideas to make this happen.
- Occasionally it may be appropriate to target attention skills first to ensure that your child gets maximum benefit from the speech work. If your child has difficulties both with language and speech it is likely we will focus on their language skills initially as these provide the foundations for speech sound development.
WHAT YOU CAN DO YOURSELF
My Top Tips:
When your child makes a speech sound error repeat back to them accurately without asking them to repeat.
- Use 'auditory bombardment' this is where your child hears a sound they have trouble producing at the beginning of may words in a short time e.g. if your child has trouble producing the 'f' sound you could make a bag of things which start with 'f' (fish, fireman, fox, fence) then go through them saying "I found a .."
- Don't assume that your child is being lazy if they can produce a sound on it's own or in short words but not in sentences, it takes longer for children to perfect sounds in their everyday speech than when they are focusing on them in a single word.
- If your child is very difficult to understand it can be useful to provide their nursery with a list of how they produce common words. It may also be helpful to encourage them to use gestures to support their communication.