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Understanding Your Child’s Speech and Language Assessment

Taking your child to a speech evaluation may seem intimidating. Below are some tips to help you navigate the results of your child’s speech and language assessment.Blog-Speech-Evaluation-Main-Landscape

Speech Intelligibility by Age: These percentages are an estimate of how much of your child’s speech should be understood by various listeners across a range of environments at a certain age.

  • 19-24 months of age: 25-50%
  • 2-3 years of age: 50-75%
  • 4-5 years of age: 75-90%
  • 5+ years of age: 90-100%

If you think an unfamiliar listener would estimate your child’s intelligibility percentage to be lower than what is listed above, they will most likely qualify for speech therapy. However, qualifying for speech therapy also depends on additional factors.

Phoneme Development: Listed below are specific speech sounds your child should have acquired by a certain age. They are listed in a range as children acquire different sounds at different ages.

  • 1-3 years of age: p, m, h, n, w, b
  • 2-4 years of age: k, g, d, f, t, ng, y
  • 3-6 years of age: r, l, s
  • 4-7 or 8 years of age: ch, sh, z, j, v
  • 5-8 years of age: voiced /th/ and voiceless /th/

When your child attends a speech and language evaluation for articulation concerns, the speech-language pathologist will conduct a formal assessment that will allow them to determine if your child has all of the age-appropriate sounds in their repertoire. The SLP may also try some exercises with your child during the assessment to see if your child is stimulable for these sounds. In other words, they may check to see if your child can produce these sounds with some modeling or if the sounds are extremely difficult for your child to produce.  If your child can produce these sounds without difficulty, the SLP may recommend monitoring your child and conducting a re-evaluation in the future as the sounds may develop on their own.  If your child cannot produce the sounds easily, the SLP will most likely recommend weekly speech therapy.

How long will my child need speech therapy?

This is a question we are frequently asked by parents and unfortunately, there is no definite answer.  Each child progresses at their own rate and some children may acquire sounds more easily than others.  The length of therapy will also depend on the severity of your child’s articulation delay.

What can I do to help?

Your child’s SLP will most likely send home weekly “homework” that will include articulation exercises you can do with your child.  The more practice, the better!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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Tackling Trouble With R: Exercises to Practice “R” Pronunciation With Your Child

The /r/ phoneme is one of the most commonly mis-articulated sounds, and it can be one of the most challenging sounds to correct. Many of the sounds we produce are visual, which is very helpful for school-age children. 

One of the reasons /r/ is so hard to teach is because the child is unable to see what their tongue looks like or where it is inside the mouth. In addition, the way in which the tongue is positioned in the mouth for an accurate production of /r/ varies from person-to-person.

How the “R” sound is formed:

  • The front part of the tongue may be “retroflexed”, which means that the tongue tip is pointing slightly up and back, behind the teeth.
  • The tongue may be “bunched”, which means that the middle of the tongue is bunched in the middle area of the mouth. The sides of the tongue must press against the back teeth or molars for both the “bunched”and “retroflexed” tongue positions.

The /r/ phoneme is even more complicated because the pronunciation depends on where the sound falls in a word. The /r/ can be prevocalic (comes before a vowel, “rabbit”), intervocalic (between two vowels, “cherry”) or postvocalic (after a vowel, “butter”). The prevocalic /r/ is the only case where /r/ is considered a consonant. The other /r/ sounds are known as “r-colored vowels”.

Elicitation techniques for /r/:

Using hand gestures – Hold one hand horizontally to symbolize the tongue, and hold the other hand underneath. Using the hand on top, show the tongue movement necessary to produce /r/. By cupping the hand, you’re showing the tongue tip is up and slightly back.

Shaping /r/ from /l/ – Tell your child to make an /l/ sound. From there, they should slide their tongue along the top of their mouth (hard palate), and this will inevitably turn into the retroflexed tongue position.

Shaping /r/ from /oo/ – Have the child say “oo” as in the word “look.” While saying the “oo” sound, tell the child to move his tongue back and up slowly – Using your hand to show this movement can be helpful!

Shaping /r/ from /z/ – Have the child prolong the “z” sound. Then tell the child to move his/her tongue back slowly while opening the jaw slightly. Remind the child to keep the back sides of the tongue up against the upper teeth.

Using animal sounds (Always model these sounds for the child first.)

  • Rooster crowing in the morning, “rrr rrr rrr rrrrrrrrrr”
  • Cat purring, “purrrrrr”
  • Tiger growl, “grrrrrrr”

Using a silent /k/ – Have the child open their mouth and make a silent /k/. Then have him attempt the growling sound.

Changing jaw position with /l/ – Have the child produce the /l/ sound, and while saying this sound, pull the lower jaw down slowly until he reaches the correct position for /r/ –  An adult can pull the jaw down gently if the child is having a difficult time lowering it down slowly.

Eliminating the /w/ – If the child is using a /w/ sound for /r/- Tell the child to smile – you can’t make a /w/ sound when you smile!

Other ways to help:

  • Be a good model – Restate what your child said and say the /r/ correctly.
  • Work on discrimination – Say an /r/ word correctly or incorrectly and see if your child can recognize the difference between a “good” /r/ sound and a “could be better” /r/ sound.
  • Talk to a certified speech language pathologist (SLP)

When to consult a speech language pathologist:

The age range for mastery of the /r/ sound is quite large. Many children master the sound by age five and a half, while others don’t produce it correctly until age 7. A general rule of thumb is that if they aren’t pronouncing it correctly by the first grade, seek advice from a licensed speech language pathologist.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonDeerfieldLincolnwoodGlenviewLake BluffDes PlainesHinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

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