When children turn 5 years, they should be pronouncing all sounds in an adult-like fashion, except for the ‘th’ sound (as in think and this), for which we can wait until around 7½ years of age. All other sounds should be in place. Which means if your child has a lisp (e.g. ‘sun’ is said as ‘thun’), this is no longer age appropriate. Similarly if your child says ‘wed wabbit’ for ‘red rabbit’, this should also have disappeared by now.
It is important to treat sound difficulties in a timely fashion. The earlier the treatment the easier it is to make change. Unfortunately it does not take long for other children to pick up subtle differences in speech and children can be teased. Even the most confident children can become reluctant to speak in front of others if they become overly aware of their speech difficulty.
At North Shore Speech Therapy we try hard to make therapy fun and a child’s own improvement is self-rewarding. We often note improved self-confidence and perseverance with tasks once small gains are made.
The table below outlines the typical development of speech sounds. By these ages, 75% of children should be able to say these speech sounds.
Bowen, C. (1998). Developmental phonological disorders. A practical guide for families and teachers. Melbourne: ACER Press.