Have you ever had a conversation with your child and had a hard time understanding a word they were saying? Maybe you noticed that they used one sound for another sound in a word, such as “wed” for “red.” If you have experienced this, you might have wondered “when should my child be making certain sounds?” or “how much of my child’s speech should I be able to understand?” As children learn to talk, they may leave out a sound, say it differently, or use one sound for another in a word. This might make it difficult to understand everything they say. Children continue to develop their speech sounds as they age, and this typically happens in a similar order. When a child is not saying a speech sound by a certain age or it continues to be difficult to understand them past the age of 3, they may need the help of a speech language pathologist to learn how to make a sound or group of sounds. Typically, speech language pathologists use intelligibility to determine how well a child is understood. Intelligibility ratings are the percentage of the child’s words or phrases that listeners understand. For example, if a child has an 80% intelligibility rating, that would mean that a listener could understand the child’s message 80% of the time. At 2 years old, children are roughly 50% intelligible. This percentage could vary depending on who your child is talking to and how familiar the listener is with your child’s speech. You may notice that it is easier for you or someone close to your child to understand them compared to someone who has not spent as much time talking with your child. This is because caregivers become more aware of their child’s speech sounds over time. At 4 to 5 years old, a child’s speech is typically 100% intelligible, even to strangers. Refer to the chart below for more information about when children develop speech sounds.
Below are some strategies you can use at home to help promote development of speech sounds. If you have questions about your child’s ability to make speech sounds or be understood by others, contact CI to schedule an evaluation with one of our speech language pathologists.
By: Olivia Bergman, MS, CCC-SLP