Do all 4 year olds enunciate correctly? Mine is recommend speech therapy :/

(38 Posts)

At Parent Evening last month the teacher recommended my son (born June 2009 and started Reception this September) requires a speech therapist as he can't pronounce some words. I asked if this was unusual and she replied that yes, they expect all 4 year olds to be able to enunciate everything clearly by this age. He has been banded with the children who do not have English as a first language because of it.

When I got home, it occurred to me that some of his classmates will have only just turned 4 and some have been 4 for longer than him, so surely his speech development can't be generalised?

He says things like 'trink'' instead of 'pink' and 'choffee chop' instead of coffee shop. He's fine in all other developmental areas.

He's my youngest and last baby so I've probably 'babied' his funny words too long, but is speech therapy really neccessary at this age do you think?

Xochiquetzal Tue 05-Nov-13 02:18:01

I think it depends if its lots of words he can't pronounce or just a few, I doubt that all reception children enunciate everything clearly but if its more than a few words then it might be worth seeing what a speech therapist says as it could be more than just you having babied his words and imo if the teacher is concerned its best to get a professional opinion.

DD is the older end of reception (October 2008) and her speech has improved a lot over the last 8-9 months so it does seem strange to generalise across a whole year group but the teacher has hopefully taken his age in to account when saying this is what he should be doing.

Mummyoftheyear Tue 05-Nov-13 03:04:29

You could begin to repeat these cute baby pron. words using correct and clear pronunciation, insisting (gently encouraging) that he then try to copy you. If you do so for a few months and are rigorous but kind, you'll see whether it's a real difficulty with pronunciation. This will help you to decide whether the teacher is right.
Correcting frequent mispronunciations will help him as he begins to need to segment (write/ spell) and blend (read) those words.

Jellyandjam Tue 05-Nov-13 07:16:29

My son (4.11) has Speech therapy as his speech is very difficult to understand. A lot of the research I have done shows that many sounds are not developed in children until as late as 7 years (sounds such as l/r and blends eg sp,sm etc), and often boys are later . However it is worth just getting it checked out now and if there is a problem it can addressed early. He may just need a few sessions and being in school helps a lot of children come along quicker too.

LittleMissGreen Tue 05-Nov-13 08:59:13

A 4 year old should be intelligible 100% of the time, although I think can pronounce up to 80% of sounds correctly.
this is a chart that shows when a child should master a sound by so, for example the 'k' sound at the beginning can be mastered at 2.5, but should be there by 3.5.
However, if you believe that your child's pronunciation is unclear because you copy his baby words back to him, make an effort to continually repeat the correct word back to him (but don't force him to repeat you), so he gets used to hearing the correct sounds. It should make a difference.

LittleMissGreen Tue 05-Nov-13 09:01:05
Slipshodsibyl Tue 05-Nov-13 09:08:00

I contacted a speech therapist when one of mine was 6 as I was concerned about some mispronunciation and the effects it might have on learning to read. She asked about the sounds I was worried about over the phone and said she would see us if things weren't clearer within a certain time frame, since the errors were common. Things sorted themselves out.

There seems to be no harm in a consultation. If your child's speech is likely to sort itself out I expect they will tell you. If the confusion is something more, it will help to be working on it before your DC is starting to read.

I do think some of the things all 4 year olds are expected to do well according to the curriculum requirements are a bit surprising though.

ReallyTired Tue 05-Nov-13 09:33:45

Please don't shoot the messenager. I realise it is a real shock that your might have a problem. It often takes months to be assessed by a speech and language therapist and it will not harm your child to be put on the waiting list. It sounds to me as if your son is lucky to have a reception teacher who is on the ball.

Has your son had a hearing test yet?

Periwinkle007 Tue 05-Nov-13 09:34:19

some sounds are common to have problems with until they are 6 or 7, th is a classic one but others would be expected by the age of 4 and if the school are finding it difficult to understand him then they are right to refer him and get it checked. I have to say I haven't personally come across children saying tr instead of p or ch instead of c which is probably why they are referring.

tiggytape Tue 05-Nov-13 10:41:25

I agree with ReallyTired about not shooting the messenger.
Nothing will happen very quickly so if, by the time he gets seen, any issues have resolved themselves, he will probably be assessed and left.

If however there is a problem it is so important to get the ball rolling now. As a parent it is hard to judge these things. You and the immediate family will understand him much better than almost everyone else so cannot really know how clear he is to others. Also the sounds you have mentioned are not the common ones for children to master at a later age - this slightly less usual pattern may be why a referral is recommended.

Speech therapy in young children is very, very common so there's no need to feel upset about this although it is natural to worry.
The advantages of getting any issues remedied now are huge:

* less impact on literacy skills later on (phonics relies on being able to pronounce the sounds)

* less time missed from school in the older year groups when formal learning is really underway

* improved confidence being able to be understood by others

*getting a place in the system now rather than waiting months on a list if you get to the stage where it is more urgent (in some areas the waiting lists are huge).

My advice would be to bite their hand off!

maizieD Tue 05-Nov-13 11:11:35

*less impact on literacy skills later on (phonics relies on being able to pronounce the sounds)

Phonics should actually help with pronunciation problems as it focusses initially on phonemes (spoken and heard). Speech therapy works at the phoneme production level (though I know that the phonemes are dealt with in a different order) so phonics instruction is likely to complement it.

Thanks everyone.

There's birth deafness history in one ear on my Mother's side of family so as my son was born at home and we never had health visitor visits after the birth either, he missed out on the hearing test that my elder child had as she was born in hospital, so perhaps it's time to check that out too.

Periwinkle007 Tue 05-Nov-13 12:15:09

I think in that case getting his hearing checked is a major priority. I am actually shocked that with a family history of deafness and him being unable to pronounce sounds clearly that you haven't already done this.

Am sure they have hearing test in reception, ds2 failed his due to not paying attention!

My dd1 is one of the youngest in her year and was referred in reception for speech and language asessment. Took ages for appointment to come by which time she had learnt to read and any issues had resolved themselves. The therapist doing the assessment said this was quite normal at this age. 4'is still so young.

As someone else said waiting lists are long and if there is a problem its best to catch it early.

Hth

sonlypuppyfat Tue 05-Nov-13 12:25:48

Now I may be wrong about speech therapists but I've never met anyone who couldn't talk. I never knew anyone at school who went to one.

SpookedMackerel Tue 05-Nov-13 12:41:58

If he is referred and there is no issue, then he will just have spent twenty minutes being assessed - much better to have it done.

It sounds like he is mispronouncing things in an unusual way - you would expect p to be acquired much earlier than tr, for example, and it would be much more common to pronounce coffee as "toffee", so the teacher might be concerned because of that; not because she expects perfect pronunciation.

I would definitely be getting his hearing checked.

Periwinkle007 Tue 05-Nov-13 12:56:02

if i remember right the hearing test in reception is later in the year. Might be wrong though. I think that needs to be checked asap though with a family history and no previous tests.

I think speech therapists do a very important job, yes some problems self correct but some do need help and if children are taught to pronounce sounds clearly then it can only be a good thing surely? How many adults still say f instead of th? quite a surprising number.

SparklyFucker Tue 05-Nov-13 13:04:22

I've had two home births and was offered the newborn hearing test at a local health centre with both of them. I too am also stunned that you haven't bothered getting his hearing checked given the family history and his obvious speech problems.

Lovethesea Tue 05-Nov-13 13:05:07

My 3.5 year old DS is having speech therapy due to phonological disorder caused by moderate deafness due to glue ear in both ears. He is working hard to catch up with his mis pronouncing sounds and missing sounds he couldn't hear for some time, but it is a struggle for him.

Take any help offered and definitely get his hearing checked. DS passed his newborn one no bother as there was no glue then. I pushed for an audiology test via the HV (who I also never saw but phoned) when I realised his sounds were not coming on much. Ie loved buses but always said 'BU'.

His sound loss meant he couldn't hear soft front mouth sounds, ie S F P T SH so he has replaced them with others - four is said bour etc.

SparklyFucker Tue 05-Nov-13 13:05:28

And do not rely on the school hearing check - I know of at least three children who have failed an in depth hospital check after passing a light touch school one, one child on the same day in fact!

Lovethesea Tue 05-Nov-13 13:09:40

Ds also showed no signs of hearing loss apart from the sounds issue. Always answered us when called etc. No sitting near the telly.

He could hear with the glue but muffled as if he had earplugs in. Some sounds disappeared altogether and others were distant.

Jellyandjam Tue 05-Nov-13 13:49:30

I agree with all those who have said it is best to get it check out just in case. You will not lose anything from it. My son's issues would not have self corrected as he was unable to make the correct shapes with his mouth, he needed to be taught how to do this, using a mirror, looking right at my/others mouths when talking etc and also needed to do exercises to improve his oral muscles as he had got used to talking in a certain way and not using certain muscles. I am currently waiting on a hearing test, I've always been told by HV and ST not to bother if there were no signs but decided I wanted it done anyway, HV filled in a referral two weeks ago but not heard anything yet.

jeee Tue 05-Nov-13 14:01:17

There is definitely a stigma attached to speech therapy. My three DDs all had it (and yes, they did need it), and I'm aware that some parents and teachers made certain assumptions about them because of it. But it's absolutely worth getting it checked out.

As several posts have said, it'll probably be weeks before an initial assessment, and then months to actually get any therapy if he needs it.

FWIW, my daughters all adored their speech therapy (in particular Pop-up Pirate, which was played as a rewared), and my son was wildly jealous that he didn't get to go.

WowOoo Tue 05-Nov-13 14:13:22

I want my 4 yr old to try speech therapy, but I've been told by the teachers that it should sort itself out.

I know that my 7 year old had far, far clearer speech by this age.
But, if it makes you feel better - my 4 yr old's speech is not clear at all times.
I'd accept any extra help at all. It will be great fun!
Do you think he puts it on ever? I know some children can speak clearly, but choose a babyish voice sometimes. Hope it all works out anyway.

Thank you LittleMissGreen for the links you've shared. I've searched for something like this before, but not found it.

My Mother is deaf in one ear from birth, along with her sister, and her brother is deaf/dumb from birth. There were originally 18 siblings in her family and those are the three siblings affected.

My son did have an ear infection that cleared up recently with treatment.
He doesn't seem to have any hearing problems that I've noticed and he has an affinity for music,constantly twanging the guitar and piano at home!

I'm unsure why people are 'stunned' amd 'shocked' that he didnt have a hearing test at birth, those are strong reactions!

His Reception hearing test is due shortly which may highlight any issues and the teacher has already asked if the school can book him infor the speech therapist when she visits, so there is progress smile

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