Speech Development 

To put it simply, speech development refers to the pronunciation of sounds. It may also be called articulation or articulation development. How a person says sounds depends on movement and placement of the tongue, teeth, jaw, breath, and voice box.  

Now, how sounds develop and deciding if a child has a delay or disorder is a bit more complicated and is dependent on many factors.

Speech & Intelligibility Development

When Do Sounds Develop?

Speech develops in a continuumSome sounds are much easier to say than others. For example, motorically speaking, it is easier to say "b" than "r." Therefore, we expect that a child will learn to say "b" correctly before he can say "r" correctly.

If a child is not saying a sound by a certain age, he or she may need speech therapy in order to learn that sound. Again, the decision for therapy will depend on many factors such as the type of errors, errors across context/placement in words, stimulability, and more!

Speech Development Milestones

Speech therapists use speech development milestone charts to decide if a child needs therapy. They also use those charts to create treatment goals and to monitor progress. 

For more information on speech development, please click here. You can even grab a free copy of a parent handout!

Speech Intelligibility

What is speech intelligibility?

Speech intelligibility is another important factor to consider. Intelligibility is how well someone understands what you are saying.

It is best to judge intelligibility by an unfamiliar listener.

The newest research by  McLeod, S. & Crowe, K. (2018) indicates that 85% of 3-year-olds are 80% intelligible. 

Concerned about your child? 

If you are concerned about your child, I recommend that you:

To learn more about speech disorders, please read

If you need materials and ideas RIGHT NOW, please explore our

  • Speech activities for home practice ideas. It is a great place to start! Playing games with your child and modeling correct speech is always a good idea :)
  • Tailored activities and step-by-step teaching strategies, cueing techniques, flashcards, word lists and specific games for each sound in our member's section. For a small fee, you will have access to everything you need.

Explore More Areas of Development:

Bridget is an ASHA certified, practicing speech-language pathologist. She is passionate about providing parents with information on child speech and language development as well as provide functional, easy activities to do at home! Parents have the power to make a real difference. Follow Bridget at Facebook and Pinterest for more fun!

Author of  child language development eBook series


  1. Goldman, R., & Fristoe, M. (2000). The Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation. 
  2. Sander, E. 1972. When are speech sounds learned? Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders
  3. SMIT A. ET AL., 1990. The Iowa Articulation Norms Project and Its Nebraska Replication, Journal of speech and Hearing Disorders
  4. Clinical experience

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