Speech Sounds

Children acquire speech sounds in various developmental stages.  It is normal for children to have individual speech sound errors.  At times, these speech sound errors are developmental, and are considered typical based on your child's age.  Following is a list of when various sounds should develop:

  • 2 years                       p, d, m, w, h, n
  • 3 years                       t, b, k, g
  • 4-5 years                    f, v, y
  • 5-7 years                    s, z, j, l, r, sh, ch, th, blended sounds


Speech sound disorders occur when a child makes mistakes producing speech sounds which are typical for their age. Speech sound disorders include problems with articulation (making sounds) and phonological processes (sound patterns).

Articulation disorder involves problems making sounds that should be appropriate for a particular age. This may be due to difficulty moving the tongue, lips, teeth, and/or jaw in order to produce each sound. Errors may be observed when producing sounds in isolation, words, sentences, or conversation.

Phonological process disorder involves difficulty understanding the rules of combining sounds to form words, resulting in patterns of sound errors. Some of the most common phonological processes observed in children include:

  • Final Consonant Deletion: Leaving final consonant sounds off of the end of words (e.g., "cu" for "cup")
  • Cluster Reduction: Eliminating one or both sounds in a cluster, occurring at either the beginning or end of words. (e.g., "poon" for "spoon" or "mas" for "mask").
  • Fronting: Substitution of a sound typically produced in the back of the throat for a sound made in the front of the mouth. (e.g., "tap" for "cap" or "dum" for "gum")
  • Syllable Deletion: Deletion of one or more syllables in a word. (e.g. "nana" for "banana")


Common speech disorders include articulation. Following are some easy tips for home that you can incorporate to enhance speech sounds:

  • Be sure to label items within the environment. This will facilitate expansion of vocabulary.
  • Comment on every day activities or talk about what you are doing
  • Engage child in finger plays, rhymes, songs.
  • Have child imitate facial expressions and movements with tongue and lips in a mirror. This increases awareness of the mouth and how to make different sounds.
  • During play with your child, model and encourage use of environmental and animal sounds.
  • Read to your child, encourage labeling of pictures and identifying pictures when named
  • Encourage use of gestures, pointing, and sign language to facilitate child's attempts at communication.
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