To determine the need for speech therapy and to create articulation goals, speech therapists assess a child's speech production and records his/her errors at the word and sentence level. Depending on the types of errors, frequency of errors, and which sounds the child is having trouble with, a client may or may not qualify for therapy.
However, the speech development milestones are outdated and I am so PLEASED to report that a new research study has provided a MUCH NEEDED UPDATE!
In 2018, McLeod, S. & Crowe, K. completed a cross-linguistic review of 27 languages and the results of the study revealed some interesting findings!
This study shows that 75-85% of English-speaking children produce all consonants besides voiceless "th" by the age of 5. This has HUGE clinical implications such as:
To access the article, click here.
School therapists rarely work on /r/, /s/, /z/, and /l/ until first or second grade!!!! This has always bothered me. Clinically, I have been seeing a need to work on articulation sounds much earlier but there was no research to back up that idea.
When working in schools, preschool and kindergarten students with low intelligibility and many "later developing" sound errors, weren't seen until first or second grade. Schools waited to see if they "outgrew it." The reasoning behind this clinical decision was based on research from the 70s.
However, I noticed that none of these children "outgrew" their errors. Instead, they spent 2-3 more years saying their sounds incorrectly before therapy would begin. Then, therapy was "that much harder." Also, these students ended up in therapy FOR YEARS.
After reading this article, I instantly changed my practice policy.
I know target /s/, /z/, /l/, /r/, etc... with my 4 and 5-year-old clients, and low and behold, they master these sounds in months, yes months!!!! Not years!!!!
Below is the updated speech development milestones chart based on the latest research.
P, B, M, T, D, N, H, T, K, G, W, NG, F, Y
L, J, CH, SH, S, V, Z
R, ZH, TH (voiced)
How To Use This Chart:
If you are concerned about your child, I recommend that you:
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