Common Speech Sound Errors
Speech sound errors are patterns in the way a child produces a sound or sounds. Oftentimes these speech errors are developmentally appropriate and children will grow out of them over time. When these errors persist, speech therapy can be helpful. One error type is called a phonological pattern. These are speech sound errors that are consistent, predictable, and follow a pattern, as the name suggests. While these are errors in speech sounds, these patterns are rooted in an understanding of the rules of language. An understanding that sounds are meaningful and impact the meaning of words must be established when working on these error patterns. This is compared to an error that is rooted in a difficulty with the motor aspect of speech (e.g., where you put your tongue in relation to your lips, etc.) Some common phonological patterns include: Fronting:
When a child produces a sound that is commonly produced in the back of the mouth (/k/ or /g/) in the front ( e.g., /t/ or /d/).
Errors that are characteristic of this phonological pattern include saying “tar” for “car” and “dot” for “got.”
Another type of fronting is when a child produces an error pattern for the sounds: /sh/, /ch/, and /j/.
Errors that are characteristic of this pattern include saying “sue” for “shoe.”
These errors are expected until about 4 years of age, but if they persist past this age it may be helpful to inquire about speech therapy.
A speech sound error when a child substitutes the R and L sound with the W sound. Errors that are characteristic of this phonological pattern include saying “ing” for “ring” and “white” for “light.”
These errors are expected until about 6-7 years of age.
A speech sound error when a sound that can be produced in a prolonged manner (e.g., the s, f, and z sounds) are substituted for a sound that is a stopping sound (e.g., the t, d, p sounds).
One error of this nature includes: “pun” for “fun” or “teal” for “seal” and this is expected to be eliminated by 3.5 years old.
Another error of this nature includes: “top” for “chop” and “dust” for “just” and this is expected to be eliminated by 4.5 years old.
This is a speech error when a sound that is part of a cluster, such as Sn, Sp, Tr, or Pl is reduced to just one sound.
An error of this nature include: “pay” for play, “spoon” for “poon,” and “tuck” for “truck”
The age of elimination for this sound is 4-4.5 years old for sound.
This error involves the substitution of the TH sound for a V or F sound
An error of this nature includes: “fing” for “thing,” and “dat” for “that.”
This error pattern is eliminated around 6 years old.
A note about the expected age of elimination of different speech sound errors: It’s important to note that the expected age of elimination does not always mean a child is not a strong candidate for speech therapy until that age. Oftentimes, depending on a child’s errors and the number of error patterns they have, it may be beneficial to start speech therapy earlier. Some factors to consider include:
Is the speech sound error impacting their social interactions?
Is the speech sound error making it difficult for familiar and/or unfamiliar listeners to understand them?
Is the speech sound error impacting their reading development?
If the answer to any of these questions is YES, it’s worthwhile reaching out to a speech therapist for a consultation to determine if speech therapy should be started.