When we talk about speech, we refer to the sounds we produce and combine to make words when speaking.
Children learn different speech sounds at different ages (e.g. a sound like ‘b’ comes very early and you will hear it in a baby’s babbling, whereas a sound like ‘th’ is often learnt once a child is school-aged). Speech pathologists are trained to assess how easy a child is to understand based on both how they are making specific sounds as well as sound patterns that occur while speech is developing.
Research and experience has shown us that while many parents are concerned about how their child sounds, far less actually pursue getting help at the time they become concerned. Family members or friends may reassure you that your child will grow out of it, whereas research strongly indicates against a ‘wait and see’ approach (for more on the research and references, refer to our blog pages).
The earlier that help is sought the better, as early support can help to prevent other issues developing in the future, including language, literacy or behaviour difficulties.
When to seek help
One general guide for families is that someone who doesn’t know your child should be able to understand most of what is said and most speech sounds should be said correctly by the age of four. Warning signs that your child may need help with his/her speech include the following. Your child may:
- use very few words
- use gestures and grunts in place of words
- get frustrated when trying to say something
- use speech that sounds ‘babyish’ compared to peers
- struggle to talk/ it appears effortful
- use speech that is ‘slushy’ in quality
- be hard to understand for unfamilar listeners beyond 3 yrs
- be lisping beyond age 7
- be hard to understand when using longer sentences
- have a history of ear infections at early ages
Get in touch
Phone (03) 9217 6423
Fax (03) 9217 6444
Waters Edge Business Centre
Level 1, 2-8 Lake Street
Victoria, Australia 3023
Monday to Friday
9:00am to 5:30pm