How to Correct Speech Errors
Have you ever heard a child say "wabbit" for rabbit, or "tee" for key? If the child was young, these speech sound errors may have seemed cute. Now imagine those same sound errors in the speech of an older, school-age child. These misarticulations are no longer cute, and may be the cause of ridicule from family, friends or classmates.
Speech sounds are not mastered all at once but in an orderly pattern that is based partly on physical development and partly on learning. At first, children may simplify adult speech sounds to fit their current ability and knowledge levels. For example, a child who always uses a "w" sound for "r", "l", and "y" sounds ("wabbit", "wamp", and "wewo" for rabbit, lamp and yellow) is using a gliding sound similar to "r", "l", and "y" but not including the tongue movements needed to make these other sounds.
As children learn more about speech sounds, they drop their simplification strategies and produce adult speech sounds. By about age 5, most children say all their sounds correctly, except maybe one or two. By age 8, all sounds should be mastered. Your child's speech should be intelligible most of the time, even to people outside the family. Have your child's hearing tested, particularly if you have to repeat a lot or talk loudly to get his or her attention, or if speech is mostly unintelligible. This applies to even very young children.
I would like to ask you to become an active listener and correct speech errors as your child communicates. However, refer to the "Development of Sounds" section so that you are only addressing sounds expected to be in the child's repertoire. Provide a model and see if he/she can copy you easily. Calling attention once in a while to errors your child makes is beneficial. Old persistent habits cannot be broken unless the child's attention is directed now and then to their unconscious use. However, calling attention to errors is a delicate matter and should be gently done. Verbal reminders can be uncomfortable because you may have to interrupt what your child is saying.
The important thing about correcting is the way it is done. If reminders are given that cause the least amount of interruption to the flow of conversation, your child will welcome and benefit from your help.
IF speech articulation does not gradually improve, please call me. I would be glad to discuss any concerns you might have and possible remedies, including direct speech therapy.
CHRISTINE LIVINGSTON, MA, CCC-SLP
Certified Speech-Language Pathologist & Orofacial Myologist
5040 Corporate Plaza Drive, Suite 8, Colorado Springs 80919
719-442-6653 (By Appointment Only--Please call for an appointment)