Individual speech sounds develop gradually, and there is a hierarchy of sounds where some sounds develop earlier than others. The following is a guideline for approximate ages for specific sound development:
By age 3 – 4:
p, b, m, h, w
f, k, g
y (as in yes), ng
By age 6:
s, z, sh (as in ‘shoe’)
ch (as in chair), j (as in jump),
By age 7:
Consistency with /l/ and l-blends (as in ‘flower’ and ‘slide’)
zh (as in ‘azure’)
‘th’ (think, mother)
/r/ and r-blends (as in ‘frog’)
By age 8-9:
All speech sounds should be produced correctly (adult-like speech production for all sounds)
You may have heard the term ‘lisp’; what is a “lisp”?
A very common error is the production of /s/. There are two types of ‘lisps’ where the /s/ (and often the /z/) will sound slushy and unclear. A lateral lisp is an incorrect production of /s/ or /z/ whereby the child allows air to escape over the sides of their tongue, resulting in a “slushy” sounding /s/ or /z/. An interdental lisp occurs when the child protrudes their tongue past and between the front teeth which results in a /th/ sound substitution (e.g. “thing” for “sing”).
It is recommended that a child producing either type of lisp be assessed by a Speech-Language Pathologist. This speech error will often persist long past the age of eight, and will become more difficult to treat the longer it goes unaddressed.
If at any time you have a question or concern surrounding your child’s speech and/or language development, please call the HearSay Speech and Hearing Centre at 905-875-3345 to speak with one of our qualified clinicians and staff.