Believe it or not, the process of turning language into speech is actually a pretty complex thing to do. Our brain, lips, tongue, and mouth all do a sophisticated dance every time we talk.
So it’s no surprise that when children are learning to speak, they’ll sometimes mispronounce words. It can be hard for little lips and mouths to make complex sounds!
But while common word fumbles like saying ‘tat’ instead of ‘cat’ may be normal at a certain age, sometimes talking troubles can be a sign of a more significant speech disorder.
Speech difficulties are the most common type of development delay. They encompass a range of issues that all relate to problems forming sounds and using them in words.
Some speech difficulties happen when a child has a physical problem that makes it hard for them to form words, such as a cleft palate. Other kids might have a hearing problem that makes it hard for them to create sounds of speech.
Children with a developmental disorder such as autism can also find speaking difficult. But for some children, there is no obvious reason why they’re having trouble speaking.
Children aren’t meant to make every sound perfectly from the minute they start talking as their little mouths still need to grow to make room for their tongue to do what it needs to do. However, there are different sounds that are expected to be said accurately from 2 years with all sounds being perfected by 6 years of age.
If your child is having difficulty being understood, particularly by less familiar people other than their immediate caregivers, then it is best to have them assessed. Making sounds is like any other motor skill – the sooner you correct the motor pattern, the easier it will be to change the incorrect “habit”.
Think about how other people interact with your child. Do people you don’t know have trouble understanding what they’re saying? An unfamiliar person should understand what children are saying from the age of 3 and up.
Other signs include:
- Stuttering or trouble saying words
- Difficulty combining sounds in words
- Trouble pronouncing longer words
- A halting flow or rhythm in speaking
- Difficulty telling the difference between sounds
- Substituting sounds (wabbit instead of rabbit)
It’s important to keep an eye on how your child is tracking with their speaking skills as they grow. If they’re falling behind in their milestone advancement, it’s never too early to see a speech pathologist for a bit of assistance.
For some children, speech difficulties are temporary and will resolve themselves as they grow up. For kids with severe difficulties or those who have a physical impairment that’s stopping them from developing their speech, our team at SpeechEase can help.
At SpeechEase, our friendly team of speech therapists are all passionate about helping children develop speech and language skills that will set them up for reaching their full potential.
At the consultation, our speech therapists will use a range of methods to assess your child’s level of speech development that may include a gentle physical exam to determine if your child’s oral structures are suitable for speech development, formal articulation assessments at a single word level as well as play-based observation.
After assessing your child’s particular patterns of difficulty, and having an in-depth discussion with you about your child’s speech history, we begin to create an appropriate treatment plan to match your child’s unique needs.
Every child is different – so no two therapies are the same. For some children, group-based structured play sessions might be most useful. For others, directly working with the child on sound formation might be more appropriate.
Most of the time, we use a combination of therapies that are tailored to achieve the goals and milestones we set with you, the parent.
SpeechEase provides speech pathology services for children up to 18 years old. We have no wait list and are registered with the NDIS and Medicare for rebates if you have a CDM referral from your GP.
If you’re concerned about your little one’s speech development, get in touch with one of our friendly speech pathologists for a free consultation on 0423 334 144. We’re looking forward to meeting you!