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Speech Development - How Recent Data Has Changed Our Thinking

If you do a google search for “when should my child be able to say /r/?”, you will likely get a range of ages suggested. Over the past 2-3 years, data (particularly a cross-linguistic review of studies ranging from 1931-2016 listed below) has changed our thinking that certain speech sounds should be targeted earlier than previously thought (for the complete article, see These researchers concluded that by 5 years of age, typically developing children are able to correctly say over 90% of speech sounds!

So, what does this mean for me and my child/ren? If your child is already receiving speech therapy at The Speech Spot, it means that our therapists are using this data as the basis of our therapy. It means that if your child is 5 and struggling on any sounds (besides /th/), we will likely recommend therapy to target the speech errors being produced. Instead of waiting 1 or 2 (or more!) years as your child says these sounds over and over incorrectly, further ingraining the incorrect motor plan into their brain, we target the sounds earlier (now!) to get the errors corrected! Our philosophy is to target speech sounds early to potentially save you and your child from years of therapy. Our goals are your goals; address the speech errors and dismiss from therapy with a success story!

At The Speech Spot we approach each speech assessment with the understanding that our standardized assessments look at how children produce speech at the word level. In many cases, a child may do perfectly well speaking at this word level but can have a drastic decrease in intelligibility at the conversational level, which is a crucial component to their abilities to successfully communicate with peers and adults. The errors you are noticing at home or a teacher identifies at school are most likely occurring at the conversational level and may or may not be occurring at the word level. For this reason, The Speech Spot relies heavily on our clinical skills/judgement to qualify for articulation therapy. We want our clients to feel confident when communicating in a variety of environments and settings. We know this is what matters; giving kids the confidence to communicate!

If you have any questions regarding speech articulation, language, or social skills please contact us. A licensed speech language pathologist will always answer your email or phone call. We are happy to consult with you about your concerns and determine the next steps that need to be taken.


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