Speech Sounds

What does speech sounds mean?

What does speech sounds mean?

As babies and children learn to communicate they learn which sounds are typical in their language. The child learns to focus on these and begins to use them in a certain way to make recognisable words. There is a set pattern of which sounds develop first – usually m, p, and b and other sounds such as k and ch which develop much later. It can take up to your child’s 5th birthday before they are using most of the sounds in the right order.

for more information click here: Speech and Sound

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

Some children can get stuck in their speech sound development and find some sounds harder to say. This is usually called a delay as the child isn’t developing at the same rate as their children the same age. These examples are typical of a speech sound delay and respond quickly to therapy

Your child may have difficulty saying the k sound and will call the cat a ‘tat’

Some children get stuck on certain types of sounds – they may not be able to say long sounds like ssssss and use a short sound like t instead.

Some children have a different problem – they can say all the sounds used in their language but use them in the wrong order. This is usually called a disorder and needs a little bit more work.

Some children can have a delay and a disorder. Some children may have speech sound difficulties as part of a wider problem such as dyspraxia, hearing difficulties or cleft palate.

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

Speech sound difficulties are one of the most common problems dealt with by all speech and language therapy departments. This is where the child has difficulty producing sounds (articulation or phonology). They may substitute certain sounds for others or their speech may be extremely difficult to understand

At the Talk Lady I will see children within the full range of speech delay or disorder i.e. minor problems e.g. lisps or failure to say ‘th’ or major difficulties e.g. diagnosed dyspraxia.

Unfortunately in some NHS areas speech sound difficulties receives a fairly low priority rating so that the wait for therapy is often quite long. However, if it is your child with the difficulty, having it dealt with quickly is a high priority for you, especially if the problem has been identified by other children, which can lead to teasing and bullying.

What does Dyspraxia mean?

What does Dyspraxia mean?

Dyspraxia is a form of developmental coordination disorder (DCD) and is a common disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. It may also affect speech. Verbal Dyspraxia is a condition where children have difficulty in making and co-ordinating the precise movements needed to produce clear speech with their mouths; and without any signs of damage to nerves or muscles. Children with Verbal Dyspraxia find it hard to produce individual speech sounds and to put sounds together in the right order in words. As a result, their speech is often hard to understand. Children with Dyspraxia have speech that sounds unusual; they don’t just sound like a younger child. Although it is speech that is mostly affected in Verbal Dyspraxia, children can also have difficulty moving their mouths, lips and tongue for things like eating, and can sometimes find it hard to co-ordinate their body movements. Verbal dyspraxia can be called Childhood Apraxia of Speech usually on American websites. Verbal dyspraxia may also be called a motor speech disorder.

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

Children with verbal dyspraxia sound different to other children and the mistakes they make when speaking do not follow a pattern. Their speech might include: * A limited range of consonant and vowel speech sounds. * Overuse of one sound (favourite articulation) * Inconsistent production and unusual error patterns * Breakdown in sequencing sounds in words, particularly as the length of words increases. * Fine and gross motor co-ordination/development If you think your child has these difficulties you should see a Speech & Language Therapist as soon as possible for an assessment.

For more information click here: What is Verbal Dyspraxia

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

Speech and Language Therapists agree that children with dyspraxia need intensive services, most often on an individual basis. A number of factors influence the frequency of therapy, including: * The severity of the child’s difficulties * The child’s ability to communicate in spite of these difficulties * The child’s age and ability to tolerate therapy * The child’s willingness to practice with parents/caregivers. The child and parent will need to commit themselves to an amount of home practice as well as weekly therapy sessions. The child will need to do a lot of listening work and a lot of practicing of speech sounds.

Attention & Listening

What does Attention & Listening mean?

What does Attention & Listening mean?

Attention is the child’s ability to focus on a specific item e.g. piece of food, a toy.

The child needs to learn to move the focus from one item to another e.g. from a toy/game to you

As the child grows older they need to maintain that focus for a specific length of time


Listening is a more complex skill. The child has to be aware of the sounds around them and make sense of them. Good listening skills are needed for the child to learn to communicate effectively.

A child needs good attention and listening skills, to remember what has been said. They are then more likely to understand the instruction and respond appropriately.

Good attention and listening skills are needed so that a child can:

* Develop early social interactions with adults and other children

* Understand words and follow instructions accurately

* Develop vocabulary (words)

* Develop grammar e.g. –ed for past tense, -s for plural

* Develop accurate speech sounds, phonic awareness and literacy

* Take part in conversations, class discussions and make friends

* Develop incidental learning from the world around them

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

A child who has difficulties listening and concentrating may act as though they have not heard you or they flit from one activity to another as they are not ready to maintain their focus for a longer period of time.

If these difficulties are not picked up your child may miss important words that will help his understanding. Your child may not develop their concentration skills to be able to cope in a noisy environment such as nursery or a classroom

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

Speech and Language Therapists are highly skilled in being able to identify what types of things your child likes to focus on and for how long.

Once this has been established Speech & Language Therapists have a number of techniques to move your child onto the next stage of attention – these will look like enjoyable games but they have a very specific purpose.

If your child is a little older, therapy for attention and listening difficulties is just as important as they skills are very important in the classroom.

Some older children may have a different type of difficulty – they may be able to listen to the instruction but may not be able to hold it in their mind to be able to do anything with it. These difficulties are known as working memory difficulties. Contact me to discuss how I may be to help your child.

Early Language Skills
What does Early Language Skills mean?

What does Early Language Skills mean?

The first 3 years of life is a busy time for your child. The brain is developing and maturing and this is the most intensive period for acquiring speech and language skills. These skills develop best in a world that is full of consistent exposure to the speech and language of others. Very early communication starts when a baby learns that a cry will bring food, comfort, and companionship. Newborns also begin to recognize important sounds in their environment, such as the voice of their mum, dad and siblings. As they grow, babies begin to sort out the speech sounds that compose the words of their language. By 6 months of age, most babies recognize the basic sounds of their native language and by their first birthday most children are trying to say words to get their message across – but these words might not sound like a word we recognise. Typically a one year old will be using language to tell you something, draw your attention to something (pointing to a car passing and saying car), requesting or asking for something (biscuit), getting someone’s attention (calling someone by name, or saying a word that will get the attention i.e. “up” to be lifted up). Children vary in their development of speech and language skills. However, they follow a natural progression or timetable for mastering the skills of language, for a checklist click here For more information click here

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

Some children have difficulty with some of the areas of early language and do not appear to be developing as quickly as their peers.

Some children have difficulty in understanding that words have meaning and it can a long time for first words are used.

Some children have lots of words but have trouble linking them together to make little sentences

Some children have lots of naming words but not many doing words which can make explaining what they want to do difficult.

Some may have difficulty understanding concepts such as size and colour, actions such as stop and go, and time words like now and later.

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

If a toddler or young child is not talking we will start with an assessment of their understanding as children need to know what words mean before they can use them.

We may need to think having your child’s hearing checked as hearing loss typically called glue ear will affect your child’s ability to learn to communicate.

Once I am sure of how much your child understands

* I can help you to look for signs your child wants to communicate with you and the best way to respond.

* We can talk about any changes we might need to make in the environment – turning the tv down, have a specific talk time with your child

* We can play lots of games at all times of the day to expose your child to new words in the right environment.

Therapy for these young children doesn’t look like therapy, it looks like play, it is a lot of fun and one of my favourite types of therapy activities.

Understanding Language
What does Understanding Language mean?

What does Understanding Language mean?

To understand is to know.

To understand language the child must know about:

* The vocabulary used

* The concepts used -are you talking about a colour such as blue, or a time such as yesterday?

* The way the sentence was put together – I’ll phone you or I phoned you?

* The intention of the speaker – what was meant rather than what was said

* Clues from the surroundings

There is a fairly set developmental process that children follow when they learn any language and children can get stuck on one of these stages.

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

How do I know if my child has difficulties? 

Children who do not understand language may have a specific difficulty with any one of the following :

The words used

The types of sentence used

The length of the sentence used

The intention of the speaker.

Whichever are they are having difficulty with the child will not be able to carry out the instruction or answer the question that they were asked. As a parent or teacher you will be able to think of some occasions when this happened but if you can think of lots of examples on a daily basis you should think about having your child’s understanding assessed.

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

Speech & Language Therapists spend a long time studying how language is put together and are the appropriate person to assess your child. Once the Speech and Language Therapist has identified the specific areas of difficulty they can help your child develop their language skills. The Speech and Language Therapist can work on developing your child’s understanding of : Words used (vocabulary) The types of sentences used The tense used – present tense for the here and now, past tense for yesterday and future tense for tomorrow. This sounds simple but difficulties with understanding tense can cause a lot of confusion. The word endings – we use different endings for a number of reasons we use –ing, -ed –s and they all mean something different. Some children can understand grammar but find intention difficult – if your child has difficulty with reading other people have a look at the social skills page click the below link. For more info cclick here

What does Vocabulary mean?

What does Vocabulary mean?

Vocabulary means a bank of words that are stored in the memory. We use words all the time to refer to items, objects and people.

We understand many more words than the ones we use every day. We also know that words can be stored in our word bank by meaning e.g all the furniture words are linked together in a category, as are all the animal words. We can also store words by the way they sound.

The size of a child’s vocabulary is now being seen as an indicator of how well they may do at Secondary School. Typically developing children have a word bank of over 14,000 words by the time they start school.

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

Your child may stumble when trying to name something or he may use the same word for lots of different things – this might because he does not know the word or it might because he cannot find it in his word bank.

Your child may be able to learn new words but cannot retain them – he needs help to learn how to store words in a useful way so that he can find them quickly to understand a question or develop his story.

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

Children learn words in a fairly typical way and Speech and Language Therapists can assess your child to see if they are keeping up with other children their age or if they are having difficulty. Speech & Language Therapists can work on growing the number of words in your child’s work bank but more importantly, can work on linking the words together so that they can be accessed quickly.

Using Language
What does Using Language mean?

What does Using Language mean?

Babies are attempting to communicate from a few hours old, they cry if they are hungry, they turn to familiar sounds. As they develop these early communication skills develop into spoken language.

We use spoken language to communicate our thoughts, ideas, questions, views and opinions even if we have only a handful of words to do this with. As children develop they learn to put words together in certain ways and that word order (grammar) can change the meaning.

e.g ‘John hugged Jim’ is different to ‘Jim hugged John’

Which one means the same as ‘John was hugged by Jim’?

Effective spoken language also needs a wide vocabulary.

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

How do I know if my child has difficulties? 

The development of using language follows a fairly standard pattern and your child may get stuck at any one of a number of stages.

Your child may not be using words at all and tends to point at things he wants.

Your child may be using lots of content or naming words but may not be using any linking words. Your child may be using lots of naming words but not many action words.

If your child is a little older they may be stuck at developing their sentences to use words like because, although or they may struggle with question words.

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

Speech & Language Therapists spend a long time studying how language is put together and are the appropriate person to assess your child.

Once the Speech and Language Therapist has identified the specific areas of difficulty they can help your child develop their language skills.

The Speech and Language Therapist can work on developing your child’s ability to learn words instead of pointing at things, or can teach your child how to combine words to make little sentences.

As your child gets older Speech and Language Therapists can teach your child how to make longer sentences, which question word to use, how to add words to add interest to their story.

Speech and Language Therapists often work on Narrative – your child’s ability to tell or re-tell an event in the right order without getting confused. This is an important skill used a lot at school.

If your child is older they may need help on developing their reasoning skills using skills called prediction and inference – all very important for success in the classroom.

Autism Spectrum Disorder
What does ASD mean?
What does ASD mean?

ASD stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people and the world around them.

It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain areas of difficulty, their condition will affect them in different ways. Asperger syndrome and pathological demand avoidance are forms of autism.

For lots more information about Autism please look at the website of The National Autistic Society. For more information click here

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

Some of the main signs that a child may have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) include:

* Not drawing their parents’ or others’ attention to objects or events, for example pointing at a toy or a book, or at something that is happening nearby (or a child may eventually do this, but later than expected)

* Carrying out activities in a repetitive way, for example always playing the same game in the same way, or repeatedly lining toys up in a particular order

* Resistance to change or doing things differently

* Emerging difficulties with social interaction, social communication and social imagination. These are the three main areas of difficulty experienced by all people with ASD and are sometimes called the ‘triad of impairments’

* Behaviour such as biting, pinching, kicking, pica (putting inedible items in the mouth), or self-injurious behaviour.

Often parents and carers of children with an ASD feel that they are unable to communicate and interact with their child and are unsure of how to do so. The child may appear not to hear what is said to them, fail to respond to their name and/or be indifferent to any attempts of communication that are made.

The use of everyday opportunities and play can encourage communication and interaction in a child with ASD.

The way in which the child communicates needs to be observed in order to develop their communicative strengths and needs. For example, if the child is not using any sound or speech, rather then communicating with them through words, try using gesture. The child with an ASD may use some of the following to communicate with others: crying, taking the adults hand to the object they desire, looking at the object they desire, reaching, using pictures and echolalia.

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

Speech and Language Therapists assess speech, language and communication abilities. They are very skilled at assessing and helping improve the child’s skills of

* social interaction (difficulty with social relationships, for example appearing aloof and indifferent to other people)

* social communication (difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication, for example not fully understanding the meaning of common gestures, facial expressions or tone of voice)

* social imagination (difficulty in the development of interpersonal play and imagination, for example having a limited range of imaginative activities, possibly copied and pursued rigidly and repetitively).

They can carry out therapy to assist with specific difficulties, and may also be involved in implementing alternative communication systems, such as PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) or may suggest strategies such as Social Stories,

They may be involved in the process of diagnosis as part of a multi-professional team.

Speech and Language Therapy can improve overall communication. This makes it possible for people with autism to improve their ability to form relationships and function in day-to-day life.

Specific goals can include helping the individual with autism to:

* Articulate words well

* Communicate both verbally and nonverbally

* Understand verbal and nonverbal communication, understanding others’ intentions in a range of settings

* Initiate communication without prompting from others

* Know the appropriate time and place to communicate something, for example, when to say “good morning”

* Develop conversational skills

* Exchange ideas

* Communicate in ways to develop relationships

* Enjoy communicating, playing, and interacting with peers

* Learn self-regulation

Social Skills
What does Social Skills mean?

What does Social Skills mean?

Social communication skills refer to all the rules we need to understand when using language to communicate and engage in conversations with other. This area of language can be called ‘pragmatics’.

There are lots of complicated rules about how we use language and these rules can be quite subtle. Sometimes the rules can change depending on the situation or who we are talking with.

There are two different groups of rules we need to learn.

Non-verbal skills

Non-verbal skills are an important part of communication. These include:

* Making appropriate eye contact.

* Not standing too close or too far from someone.

* Doing things like nodding to show we are listening.

* Using appropriate body language and facial expressions.

These skills become more sophisticated as children grow older and have more experiences.

Some children have difficulty in understanding or using non-verbal skills. This can affect their communication development and impact on them socially.

Conversational Skills

* When talking with others, there are many things we need to consider. For example, we need to:

* Be able to start and finish a conversation well.

* Take turns and not interrupt.

* Be aware of what our listener already knows or how they might be feeling.

* Change the conversation well.

* Be relevant.

* Be aware of the situation and who we are talking to.

We all need these skills to communicate effectively so that we can to listen to others, express ourselves, be taken seriously and to make friends.

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

Social Skills are very subtle and a number of people can get ‘hold of the wrong end of the stick’ without them having obvious difficulties.

e.g All of us have mis- heard a word in a sentence which can alter the whole meaning. Most of us will check back with the speaker about what we thought we heard.

If your child isn’t aware that something is wrong, they may have social communication difficulties.

For some children these difficulties can be subtle and they simply need support in learning the meaning of facial expressions or classroom rules. Other children have more obvious difficulties as they often seem to be in trouble with no apparent reason; they often fall out with other children in the playground, or are called cheeky or rude.

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

Speech and Language Therapists can help your child to develop all of these skills so that they can:

* Use their language in different ways – to provide information; to question; to negotiate; to suggest; to clarify.

* Develop their Conversational skills, e.g. starting and finishing conversations; maintaining a topic of conversation; taking turns in a conversation.

* Understand shared and assumed knowledge, i.e. how much information the listener needs to understand. This can be a tricky area for a lot of children.

* Understand and use non-verbal communication skills, e.g. eye contact, facial expression, gesture, proximity and distance.

* Understand implied meaning – when people ask you to do something without using the exact words. e.g ‘take a seat’ means not please sit down not carry a chair out of the room.

Non verbal ways to communicate

What does non verbal ways to communicate mean?

What does non verbal ways to communicate mean?

There are many ways that we communicate without speech every day, this is often referred to in literature and by professionals as non-verbal communication.

We communicate nonverbally when we point to something, give a child a look of disapproval, raise our eyebrows in response to an event or laugh spontaneously at something funny. When you understand how often we communicate without speech every day you realise that we communicate more without speech than we do with speech. This makes it important to respond to communication without speech in the same we as we would do for someone who was speaking to us.

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

How do I know if my child has difficulties?

Some children with an Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) find non verbal communication very difficult to understand and get confused by things we might take for granted such as tone of voice, speaking at the right speed and volume.

Children who have significant difficulties with verbal communication may use Signs and Symbols to communicate – these are sometimes called AAC which stands for Alternative and Augmentative Communication.

<a href=”http://www.talkingpoint.org.uk/parents/speech-and-language/alternative-forms-communication”>Click here for more Information</a>

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

How can a Speech & Language Therapist Help?

I have worked with children with ASC for many years and understand how confusing spoken language can be.

I can help your child:

* understand how spoken communication works

* understand why non verbal communication is important

* learn strategies to cope with understanding and using non verbal communication.

In the last 20 years I have worked with children with severe language delays and severe speech sound delays and to ease their frustration I have often using sign to support their communication. I usually use Makaton and am training to become a Regional Tutor which means I can offer specialist training to schools and nurseries to help support your chid.

I have also used a system called PECS which stands for Picture Exchange Communication System. This is a structured way of encouraging children to communicate by swapping a picture for an item they want. As the child works through the stages PECS can be used to describe, answer questions and comment as well as ask for things.