"Help! When should I consult a speech pathologist for my child’s speech?!”
“When should I consult a speech pathologist for my child’s speech?!”
Knowing how much of your child’s speech others should be able to understand is a good starting point when trying to determine if their speech is developing typically or not. The speechie term for “the proportion of speaker’s output that others can readily understand” is “intelligibility”. Check out this graphic for a rough guideline on how intelligible your child should be by what age.
As you can see in the graphic, we can expect children to have mastered most sounds by age 4 and all sounds by age 5-6. Children with typically developing speech will acquire certain sounds first, shown at the bottom of the ladder, then can be expected to follow a predictable trajectory when acquiring the rest of their sounds. This graphic may be useful to refer to if you’re wondering if your child’s speech development is typical or not. For example, a parent may be saying to themselves “Tommy doesn’t say his K sound yet and he’s almost 4… is that normal?!”. They can look at this chart and quickly realize that that sound is typically acquired around age 2-3. Alternatively, I also sometimes get parents that say “He doesn’t quite say his R’s right” and when I ask how old the child is, they tell me he’s 3.5. According to McLeod and Crowe’s (2018) research, we would be able to easily see that R is not a sound that is expected to be mastered until about 5 years old.
Last updated September 24, 2021