Doing Life Together

child sleepingMy four-year-old mispronounces a number of words. I think it is really cute. My friend, however, is telling me he may have a speech problem and that I should ask the pediatrician about this. His K-4 teacher also mentioned this. Should I be concerned about his speech at this age?

Here is what my former colleagues at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia say about normal speech development. Keep in mind that all children are different. These are general guidelines:

Age 2-3: Child knows spatial concepts like “in” and “on”; pronouns such as “you’ and “me”; and descriptive words such as, “big” and “happy.”

Age 3: Child should be able to produce individual sounds or m, p, h. w and all of the vowels. These should be understandable about 90% of the time.

Age 3-4: Child uses most speech sounds but can distort some of the more difficult ones like l, r, s, sh, ch, y, v, z and th—some of those may take up to age 7 and 8 to be clear.

Age 4-5: Speech should be understandable even if she mispronounces long and difficult words like “hippopotamus.”

Age 5: Most children will have a depth of vocabulary, understand time sequences, follow a series of three directions, and carry on conversations. If you notice your child stutters after age 5, you may want to consult your physician.

If you read through this and feel your child may not be where she needs to be, there is no harm having her evaluated. Public schools do screen for speech and language problems beginning at age three. You may want to call your local school district and set up an appointment. Or check with a speech pathologist.



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