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I’ve created a brochure to share with parents and teachers when a child is first diagnosed with a speech sound disorder, similar to my brochure about fluency disorders. Many parents have questions, and it can be hard to remember all of the things we talk about at an evaluation or IEP meeting. I designed a brochure to summarize current research on what we know about speech sound disorders, and why speech therapy is important.

CLICK HERE to download the brochure from my TPT store.

Here is the text from the brochure:

What is a speech sound disorder?
Speech sound disorder (SSD) is an umbrella term referring to any combination of difficulties with perception, motor production, and/or the phonological representation of speech sounds and speech segments (including phonotactic rules that govern syllable shape, structure, and stress, as well as prosody) that impact speech intelligibility. (ASHA)

What causes SSD?
Speech sound disorders may be motor based (dysarthria, apraxia), structural (cleft palate, short frenum), caused by syndromes (eg: Down Syndrome) or by a hearing impairment, or may have an unknown cause. They tend to run in families, but also appear in families with no history of SSD.

SSDs are NOT caused by learning another language, bad habits, “baby talk”, or parenting style.

Is there a cure?
Speech therapy is used to treat SSDs. Most children who receive speech therapy for SSDs will master their goals and eventually be able to speak with clear sounds. Speech therapy can help reduce frustration, and increase your child’s ability to be understood.

A Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) is trained to provide speech therapy for speech sound disorders.

What can I do at home?
There are many things parents and caregivers can do to help children develop clear speech sounds.

  • Practice at home: if your child receives speech therapy, ask your SLP for home practice pages to review at home in between sessions. Short, daily practice is best! Aim for 2-3 minutes per day.
  • Model clear speech: Children learn by listening. Show how to use clear sounds by example!
  • Read books: Reading together helps all areas of speech and language development. Choose high interest books on topics that will interest your child. Point out words that have your child’s sounds in them (eg: Find all the L words, or all the S words). Talk about the story, ask questions, and encourage your child to ask questions or retell the story to you.
  • Play with letters: Use sidewalk chalk to draw letters on the ground. Make playdough letters, or have fun with letter magnets on the fridge. Draw letters in the steam on the bathroom mirror. Talk about the sounds each letter makes.

Does my child need speech therapy?
Children develop at different rates, but there is a range for normal development. If your child is significantly below these guidelines (see below), please talk to an SLP about speech therapy.

If your child is frustrated by not being understood, that is also a sign that she/he may need speech therapy. You can talk to your doctor for a referral to a hospital-based or community SLP, or contact your local school district for a free communication evaluation.

  • 2 years old: 50% intelligible
    Many speech sound errors
  • 3 years old: 75% intelligible
    P,B,M,N,H,Y are consistent
    D,T,K,G,F,S,Y are emerging
  • 4 years old: 90% intelligible
    B,D,T,F,K,G,Y are consistent
  • 5 years old: 90-100% intelligible
    May not have TH, R or S/L-blends
  • 6 years old:
    S/L-blends and R start to develop
  • 7 years old:
    TH begins to develop
    R sound and S/L-blends may still be emerging.

What should I expect from speech therapy?
Speech therapy is the treatment for SSDs. An SLP will do some testing with your child to determine exactly where they are in their speech sound development, and then set some goals to work on in therapy.

If you receive speech therapy through public schools, your child will have an Individual Education Program (IEP) developed for him/her, which will include their speech goals, and how much time each week they will work with the SLP.

Your health insurance may also cover speech therapy through hospitals or community providers. Contact your insurance provider for more details.


American Speech Hearing Association

Mommy Speech Therapy

If you feel your child has a speech sound disorder, you can receive a communication evaluation and, if necessary, speech therapy through your public school.

Contact your local public school for more information about speech therapy for your child.




I’ve been working this month on creating a brochure to share with parents and teachers when a child is first diagnosed with stuttering. Many parents have questions, and it can be hard to remember all of the things we talk about at an evaluation or IEP meeting. I designed a brochure to summarize current research on what we know about stuttering, and why speech therapy is important.

CLICK HERE to download the brochure from my TPT store.

Here is the text from the brochure:

What is stuttering?
Stuttering is the disruption of fluent speech. People who stutter may “get stuck” on words, phrases or sounds. They may repeat these words or sounds multiple times. They may “block” and not be able to say anything at all. Stuttering is involuntary; the person who is stuttering does not have the ability to stop stuttering. It is not a choice, or something caused by bad habits.

What causes stuttering? Did I cause my child to stutter? 
Stuttering is a multifactorial disorder, which means it is influenced by many different things. It has genetic causes, which we know because stuttering tends to run in families. Stuttering can be triggered by emotions, stress, or particular situations, but it is NOT caused by these things. Stuttering is not caused by parenting style, bad habits, or anything you or your child chose to do. It is neurological, and involuntary.

Is there a cure?
There is no cure for stuttering. Children who begin stuttering after age 4, or who continue stuttering beyond preschool, are classified as having a persistent stutter and will not grow out of stuttering. Speech therapy can help a child or adult speak more easily, but cannot cure the underlying condition. Persistent stuttering is permanent.

Does stuttering stay the same over a person’s lifetime?
Stuttering is unpredictable, and impacted by many factors. It can be triggered by strong emotions (feeling excited, nervous, or scared), by particular people, by specific words or sounds, by life changes (moving, new baby in the family) or even by growth spurts or puberty.

Stuttering severity is often cyclical, so stuttering might be mild for a time, then increase and be moderate or severe, then come back down to mild or even imperceptible. These cycles are normal, and can happen at any time during a person’s life.

Speech therapy can help get stuttering under control, and support a person who stutters as they manage their stuttering.

What can I do to help my child?
The biggest thing you can do to help your child who stutters is to remain supportive and listen to what they say rather than how they say it. Here are some tips:

  • Listen attentively to what your child says.
    Don’t interrupt or say words for your child.
  • Avoid competition among family members when speaking.
    Make sure everyone has lots of time to express their thoughts.
  • Model a slow, relaxed speaking style
    with short phrases and pauses in between thoughts. This helps reduce pressure on your child to speak quickly.
  • Be honest.
    It is okay to acknowledge that your child is struggling with his/her speech. Talking about stuttering openly can help reduce anxiety or other negative feelings about stuttering.
  • Be positive!
    Make sure your child knows that it is okay to stutter, and that you love hearing what she/he has to say.

What should I expect from speech therapy? 
Speech therapy will not cure stuttering. A few people who stutter will be able to achieve 100% fluency using speech strategies, but most will still have occasional disfluencies in their speech.

The purpose of speech therapy for stuttering is to make talking easier, and to give the person who stutters control over their speech. Learning speech strategies helps a person who stutters control their fluency when it is important to them, and makes talking easier when they are expressing their ideas. Learning about stuttering is also important to help a person avoid feelings of guilt or frustration, and to reduce anxiety about stuttering.

Speech therapy can make stuttering less severe, and support a person who stutters in finding (or keeping!) their own voice.


If you feel your child is stuttering, you can receive a free communication evaluation and, if your child qualfies, speech therapy through your public school.

Contact your local public school for more information about stuttering therapy for your child.

This is the time of year for REFERRALS. Many parents wonder whether their student is saying words “normally” (especially in kindergarten!). For a review of normal speech development, CLICK HERE to see a post about which sounds can be expected at particular ages.

If you’re unsure about which sounds your child has difficulty with, I have found a solution!

Mommy Speech Therapy has developed a FREE articulation screener, which you can print out and use at home.

The directions are simple:

  1. Print the pages
  2. Have your child name each picture on the page
  3. Mark down what they say
  4. Count up the errors
  5. Check the chart on the screener to see if your child is developing typically, or if they might need some help from a speech therapist.
  6. If you are worried after doing the screening, bring the results to your child’s school speech therapist and ask her or him to check in with your child at school.

I’d recommend showing your child the pictures and recording their answers, and then going back to mark the form while listening to the recording. It will make it much easier to focus on the specific sounds your child is making. Your smartphone probably has an app for that. 🙂

CLICK HERE for the free articulation screener.

In the fall I get many referrals from teachers, and calls from concerned parents, about their son or daughter’s speech. People wonder “Is my child normal?” when Timmy or Sandy can’t make the R sound, or when their child’s classmates are sounding more clear than their child.

Most of the time, this is normal. Really!

There is a range of “normal.” Many kids learn faster than “normal,” and many kids learn slower than “normal,” and are still in the normal range. The normal range is quite large. I have a hard time even typing “normal” without quotes, because it can look so different from student to student.

However, it can be useful to look at generalities to see if your student or child might need a speech therapy referral. Here are some guidelines:

2 years old:
-50% intelligible

Kids who are two should be able to be understood about 50% of the time. There will be many sounds that are still developing, and this is normal. Sometimes you will have no idea what they say, and this is normal also. 🙂

3 years old:
– 75% intelligible
– /p,b,m,n,h,w/ are consistent
– /d,t,k,g,f,s,j/ are there, but sometimes incorrect

Kids who are 3 have many sounds developing, but should be understandable more often than not. They will be inconsistent in which words they can say, and which ones they can’t.

4 years old:
– 90% intelligible
– /b,d,t,f,k,g,y/ are now consistent

Kids who are 4 are understood most of the time. There are still errors, but they generally don’t interfere with understanding what the child is saying. Many of the sounds are “inconsistent,” meaning that the sound is still developing, and some of the time they can make it, and some of the time they can’t.

5 years old:
– 90-100% intelligible
– may not have /th,r,l,s-blends/
– /v,s,z,l,r,th,ch,j,sh,zh/ are sometimes incorrect

Kids who are 5 should have the ability to make almost all of the sounds, and most of the time they do this correctly. They are understood almost all of the time. It is normal to not have the R, Th, L, and S-blends (like sp-, st-, etc). It is also still normal for kids to have a mild lisp, with the /s/ sounding like a /th/. These last few sounds can still be developing all the way into 2nd grade.

6 years old:
– /s/ blends, /l/ blends, and /r/ start to develop

7 years old:
– /th/ sound begins to develop. /r/ and /s,l/ blends may be inconsistent

8 years old:
– /th/ and /r/ should finish developing. If students do not have the /r/ sound by the end of 2nd grade, speech therapy may be needed.

What if my kid isn’t “normal”?

If you check your child’s speech against the list above and feel that there may be a problem, PLEASE call your local speech therapist RIGHT AWAY! It is much easier to help children when they are younger, before they develop patterns which will need to be corrected later. You can talk with your doctor or call your child’s public school and ask to speak with the speech therapist on staff. If your child isn’t in school yet or is in private school, you can still get speech therapy if your child needs it. Find out how to connect with those services by calling your local public school.

Often, frustration can be an indicator if something is worrisome – most kids will be able to make important things understood, and if an adult doesn’t understand the first time, they can say it again. If your child is getting frustrated frequently, having temper tantrums or acting out when people don’t understand, or giving up on talking, that may indicate a problem which could be helped by speech therapy.

A note about a child who has a lisp: a frontal lisp (the ‘s’ sounding like a ‘th’) can be normal all the way into 2nd grade. It doesn’t impact intelligibility very much, and many children have this speech pattern. A lateral lisp (the air coming out the side of the child’s mouth for the ‘s’ sound, making it sound slushy or slobbery) is NOT a normal speech pattern, and will probably need speech therapy if it doesn’t clear up pretty quickly.

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Spring break!

Spring break!March 30th, 2018
spring break!

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