Fort Myers speech therapists

How FOCUS Fort Myers Speech Therapists Teach Sound Articulation

Does your child struggle to say particular sounds? Do they say “fumb” for “thumb”? Say their ‘r’ sound like a ‘w’? Leave out a sound if it’s too hard to pronounce (i.e., ‘nana for ‘banana’)? Say their ‘s’ sounds with a lisp? As our Fort Myers speech therapists can explain, these are speech sound errors, which can be addressed with a type of speech therapy called articulation therapy.

We should start by saying that some articulation difficulty is 100% normal, and your child will grow out of it. The question will be how old they are and where they should be at developmentally for their age group.

In general:

  • By 32 months, a child should be able to say the /p/, /h/, /b/, /m/, /n/ sounds.
  • By 36 months, your child should be able to properly say the /f/, /w/, /b/, /g/, /d/ sounds and the “ng” sound.
  • At 48 months, your child should be able to correctly say the /s/ sound.

Another element to consider is how well your child is generally understood by people other than you.

  • By 2, your child should be about 65% intelligible (understood) to most listeners.
  • By 3, your child should be about 80% intelligible to most listeners.
  • By 4, your child should be very intelligible in connected speech. Sometimes people will describe it as, “talking like a little adult.”

Trouble with articulation is only considered a “disorder” when a sound that should have been acquired.

How Can Fort Myers Speech Therapists Help My Child? 

The first thing you can do if you think your child *might* need speech therapy is request a speech therapy referral from your pediatrician. Once we have that, our Fort Myers speech therapists at FOCUS Therapy can conduct a full evaluation to determine whether your child can benefit from services. If so, we develop a plan of care that is unique to your child, defining specific goals and timelines.

(Note: Children with an articulation disorder [which is trouble saying speech sounds] have a higher likelihood of also being diagnosed with a language disorder [difficulty understanding what’s being said to them or appropriately expressing their thoughts to others]. This is something the SLP will test for also.)

A certified speech-language pathologist can work with your child to move through their hierarchy of levels with articulation, which includes the following steps:

  1. Listening and hearing the difference between accurate and inaccurate articulation.
  2. Saying the sound in isolation (by itself).
  3. Saying the sound with a vowel.
  4. Saying the sound in a single word.
  5. Saying the sound in two-word phrases.
  6. Saying the sound in full sentences.
  7. Saying the sound in everyday conversations. (We refer to this as “generalization.”)

Depending on their skill level, we may start somewhere in the middle of that pyramid. A speech sound is considered “mastered” when your child is able to accurately produce it in conversational speech. Consistent work with a speech-language pathologist is critical to success.

Won’t Some of These Speech Errors Go Away on Their Own? 

Possibly. Again, it really comes down to what is developmentally appropriate for their age, as well as how severe their speech errors are. That said, it’s not something we recommend parents leave to their own guesswork. A qualified speech therapist can comprehensively assess your child’s abilities and identify significant issues. We understand the time and commitment involved in obtaining speech therapy for your child. It’s not something any speech therapist will recommend unless we truly believe it’s to the child’s benefit.

Consider too that if there is an issue that requires intervention, the earlier you obtain it, the easier it will be for your child to overcome it (habits aren’t so ingrained) and the fewer issues it will cause them socially and academically.

As for how long it will take, it really depends on the child. Some kids may produce the sound by itself early on, but aren’t able to master it until some time later with a lot of practice.

FOCUS offers pediatric speech therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

Speech Sound Disorders, ASHA

More Blog Entries:

Florida Speech-Language Pathologists are in High Demand, Feb. 5, 2022, Fort Myers Pediatric Speech Therapy Blog

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