Better Hearing & Speech Month: Articulation Problems

Most adults think its cute when their 2-year-old says “goiwl” instead of “girl.” But it’s not as cute when he or she is 8 and feeling self-conscious at school. So how do you know when a mispronunciation is typical or an articulation problem?
The majority of children make some mistakes in their speech as they learn new words and sounds.  An articulation disorder occurs when mistakes continue past a certain age, and every sound has a different age range as to when it should be acquired.  The key is to know whether your child is making typical speech sound errors, or if he or she could potentially have an articulation disorder.
What are the signs of an articulation disorder?
An articulation disorder occurs when sounds are substituted, left off, added, or changed.  For example, some children might substitute a sound and use “wadder” for “ladder”, or “fwog” for “frog”.  Many children might make these typical errors, but if they continue past a certain age, they may have an articulation disorder.
When are the age-ranges for acquired sounds?
1-3 years
p, b, m, h, w, n
2-3 ½ years
k, g, d, t, f
2 years and up
2 ½ – 4 years
3-4 years
l, blends (sp, bl, gr, etc)
3-5 years
3 ½ – 6 years
sh, ch, z
4-6 years
r, j, v
4 ½ – 6 years
th (thumb, that, etc)
6 years and up
zh (measure)

This table can give you a general idea as to whether your child is having articulation difficulty or not. 

What to do if your child is demonstrating difficulty
Schedule an appointment with your doctor or a speech-language pathologist for an evaluation to determine if your child has an articulation disorder.  If it is determined that your child has difficulty, speech therapy is available to teach and correct these sounds at the syllable level all the way up to the conversational level.   
– Laura Carter, MS, CF-SLP