Speech Ladder

Learning sounds comes at different ages for different children, but the following developmental milestone chart shows which sounds are achieved by children 90% of the time. That is not to say that children cannot produce certain sounds earlier than the chart suggests. Think of the progression of sounds as a ladder. Kids learn sounds in isolation first, building up to syllables, then words, phrases, sentences, reading and then carryover. First they learn to produce sounds in isolation.

If you are working on more than one sound, they may each be at different levels in the process. (for example, /r/ may be at the isolated of syllable level while /k/ and /g/ may be at the word or phrase level). That’s ok. Different sounds progress at different stages. They also develop at different stages (insert link to speech developmental milestone on website).

Ideas for helping your child learn to say their sounds.

  1. Aim high – try to get them to say the word(s) with their sound in it. If its too hard, break it down to a syllable.If that’s too hard then work on the sound in isolation. Continue to breakdown and then build back up until success is achieved.
  2. Use a mirror to watch how you are using your articulators (lips, tongue, teeth etc) to produce the sound.
  3. Make eye contact and model the sound(s) so they can SEE how to produce them.
  4. Talk them through how to make the sound (example: /t/ uses the tip of your tongue up behind your top teeth, /k/ is made in the back of your mouth/throat, /m/ uses your lips, /f/ requires you to tuck your bottom lip in and put your teeth on your lip – like you’re biting it!) This will help them know what to do beyond just listening and watching to the sound being produced. 
  5. If they need basic practice work on CV and VC syllables with long vowels (example: say, see, sigh, so, sue OR ace, eece, ice, oce, uce). Sometimes a slight space between the Consonant and the Vowel help them transition from one sound to the other.
  6. Really that just because your child can say one word with their sound in it does not mean they can make all words. Different sound combinations and the position of the sound makes all the difference. 
  7. Read books and stop on words that have your child’s sounds in them.
  8. Aim to get 3 solid productions of the sound/syllable/word etc for the motor movement to be reinforced.
  9. ARTICULATION STATION is a great app to work on sounds.
    [*There is a free version with the /p/ sound and all other sounds require in app purchase. If you have multiple sounds the full PRO version may be a better option. You can record and play games while learning your sound with this app.]
  10. If vowels and /r/’s are difficult, VOWEL VIZ is a great app to help reinforce the sound production using the microphone of your phone or iPad.

THE GOAL OF THERAPY is to get to a point of consistent productions in spontaneous conversation in order to move into a maintenance mode in therapy. At this point therapy sessions will be spread out to make sure that the child is able to maintain success over time without consistent weekly therapy sessions.

For children with more difficult speech patterns, Advantage Speech Therapy is a provider of the COMPLETE SPEECH PROGRAM which helps reduce the time in therapy for sounds including (but not limited to) /r/ and /s/. It is a visual software program that requires a palate to be made so that the sensors can allow the child and therapist to visually see where they are producing their tongue to assist them in making the necessary productions. They have also recently come out with Target Palates which are specific to each sound but mobile (i.e. they do not require you to hook up to a computer). 

ASTS has also recently earned PROMPT training February 2016.