To put it simply, speech development refers to the pronunciation of sounds. It may also be called articulation or articulation development. How a person says sounds depends on movement and placement of the tongue, teeth, jaw, breath, and voice box.
Now, how sounds develop and deciding if a child has a delay or disorder is a bit more complicated and is dependent on many factors.
When Do Sounds Develop?
Speech develops in a continuum. Some sounds are much easier to say than others. For example, motorically speaking, it is easier to say "b" than "r." Therefore, we expect that a child will learn to say "b" correctly before he can say "r" correctly.
If a child is not saying a sound by a certain age, he or she may need speech therapy in order to learn that sound. Again, the decision for therapy will depend on many factors such as the type of errors, errors across context/placement in words, stimulability, and more!
Speech Development Milestones
Speech therapists use speech development milestone charts to decide if a child needs therapy. They also use those charts to create treatment goals and to monitor progress.
For more information on speech development, please click here. You can even grab a free copy of a parent handout!
What is speech intelligibility?
Speech intelligibility is another important factor to consider. Intelligibility is how well someone understands what you are saying.
It is best to judge intelligibility by an unfamiliar listener.
The newest research by McLeod, S. & Crowe, K. (2018) indicates that 85% of 3-year-olds are 80% intelligible.
Concerned about your child?
If you are concerned about your child, I recommend that you:
- reach out to your local school district
- contact a local speech-language pathologist
- schedule a consultation with us to discuss your concerns
To learn more about speech disorders, please read
- Speech Development Disorders for more information.
If you need materials and ideas RIGHT NOW, please explore our
- Speech activities for home practice ideas. It is a great place to start! Playing games with your child and modeling correct speech is always a good idea 🙂
- Tailored activities and step-by-step teaching strategies, cueing techniques, flashcards, word lists and specific games for each sound in our member's section. For a small fee, you will have access to everything you need.