Will My Child Outgrow Her Speech Impediment?
Your child hasn’t reached the speech and language milestones as quickly as her buddies. And, she says “thoup” instead of “soup”. Does this mean she has a speech impediment? Does she need speech therapy? Will she outgrow it on her own? Parents whose children are at the beginning stages of speech and language development ask these questions and more as their children’s speech patterns emerge. There are no real clinical “tests” to determine whether or not your child is a late talker, has a real speech impediment, or if it will indeed resolve itself on its own. Many children with early speech impairments do eventually outgrow them by the time they are ready for kindergarten. It is important to discuss your concerns with your child’s healthcare provider for any developmental challenges as there are also many other causes and types of speech disorders.
Can My Child Really Outgrow Her Speech Impediment?
While it is true that many toddlers and preschoolers show signs of speech issues that eventually are outgrown, it is important to seek early intervention for speech impediments. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are trained in identifying these and many other types of speech delays and disorders. The earlier these are identified and addressed, the lower the negative impact will be in school, social, and emotional aspects.
All children learn at different rates. This includes speech and language skills. Many children do not reach the normal speech and language milestones at the same pace as their peers, and other children appear to have noticeable speech impediments – where normal speech patterns are somehow disrupted. Some of the most common children speech impediments include stuttering, lisp and articulation disorders. Around the age of seven or eight is generally when most children have mastered their speech skills. Each type of speech impediment may or may not be outgrown, depending on the type of speech disorder and the severity. Examples include:
Stuttering – This is a fairly common speech impediment or disorder, also known as a disfluency. There are two general categories of stuttering, and the type with which the child struggles, often indicates whether or not it will be more easily outgrown. Often, typical stuttering patterns are more commonly outgrown, where less typical stuttering may indicate a more pronounced speech impediment that will benefit from speech therapy.
Lisps – There are four general types of lisps: palatal, lateral, dentalized, and interdental. Lateral and palatal lisps are less likely to be outgrown. Typically children who do not outgrow their lisps by ages 6 or 7 will need some form of speech therapy.
Articulation – There are many different forms of articulation challenges that your child may exhibit. Speech sound errors common in young children include:
- Deleting Sounds: a child will say “chee” instead of “cheese” or “tee” instead of “tree”. Most often, the child will leave off a consonant.
- Substituting Sounds: instead of saying “three”, a child may say “sree” or instead of “rabbit”, a child may say “wabbit”.
- Adding Sounds: this occurs in words such as “spaghetti”, a child may instead say “busketti” or sometimes adds a letter to the end of a word such as “doga” instead of “dog”.
- Distorting Sounds: this is when the child distorts the proper sound of the word or letter, such as “thoup” for “soup” or “dis” for “this”.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech development or if you believe that your child may have a speech impediment or speech disorder, there are several general guidelines for age-related milestones. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) has an online checklist available for parents who are concerned about their children’s speech and communication development. As always, any concerns you have should be discussed with your child’s pediatrician.