A child’s speech is expected to be intelligible by the time they are 48 months. A speech disorder can be an articulation disorder, phonological disorder, apraxia of speech, voice disorder or fluency disorder. Early treatment for beginning and later developing sounds is more effective.
If your child has a speech/articulation disorder, s/he has difficulty coordinating the movements of the lips, tongue, soft palate, teeth, and jaw to produce sounds. S/He may substitute /f/ for [th] or have a lisp and distort /s/ and /z/ sounds.
Children who have a phonological disorder have not learned the rules or patterns of speech sounds. A child may mispronounce sounds in some words but not in others (e.g., they may say “du” for “duck” and omit the final /k/ sounds in words, but they can say the /k/ in the beginning of words as in “key”). Phonological disorders are seen as a language-based disorder. Children with phonology disorders are at high risk for reading and learning disabilities.
Apraxia of speech is a neurological disorder which affects a child’s ability to plan, sequence, transmit and execute oral speech movements from the brain to their mouths. The child may exhibit groping when attempting to say a difficult word or phrase.
Stuttering or dysfluency runs in families. As a result, researchers are inclined say that stuttering has genetic roots. There is a period of normal dysfluency which occur in some preschoolers and is simultaneous with the acquisition of language. Stuttering disappears as the child develops greater language competency. True stuttering occurs when a child becomes aware of his dysfluency and attempts to manage or hide it. People who stutter lack the coordination of time sequences and movement. Some common characteristics of stuttered speech may include repetitions, hesitations, or prolonged sustained speech sounds at the beginning of words or within words. There may be struggle or tension shown by excessive movement of the facial muscles. Emotional reactions that are learned can be unlearned. Techniques can be learned to reduce stuttering and make speech more manageable.