Speech Delays in Preschoolers
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Speech Delays in Preschoolers
We no longer live in the Bay Area, so I don't need specific
provider referrals, but...my 4-year old son has been
diagnosed by the school early childhood special ed screening
program as having an ''articulation disorder.'' However, he
did not qualify for services (not severe enough
technically). He doesn't make s, s blends, z, and f sounds
in conversation (uses the back of his throat for those
rather than the front-sounds like German). He is now capable
of making these sounds when I remind him to use the front of
his mouth, and the sounds are popping occasionally now into
his regular speech. Still, if you don't know him he's hard
to understand and I'm sure it'll be an issue in K if not
fixed. He is advanced as far as language development and in
general otherwise. He was referred to an ENT, who said that
his tonsils and possibly his adenoids were enlarged and
scheduled him to get them removed. The speech therapist in
the ENT clinic also thought she could help him. Problem
is-we have an extremely high deductible plus lots of medical
bills we're still paying off-and can't afford either the
surgery or the therapy. If you are a speech clinician or
knowledgeable in this area...will my practicing with him
perhaps help him overcome this? What else could we do?
You don't say where you live now, but I beleive that
anywhere in California, if your child is over 3 years old,
the school district in which you reside is required by law
to evaluate your child. You have to contact the school
district and request an evaluation in writing. If they
determine he qualifies for speech therapy, then they are
supposed to provide it free! I'd check with your
pediatrician where you live now, they should know.
Bay Area Pediatrician
My daughter still had issues with sh, th, ch, and j sounds at 4. Like your son,
she eventually became able to produce all of the sounds when reminded. As
time went on and she got a little older and more self-aware, she started
correcting herself (e.g., ''sue, no, SHoe!,'' ''zheese, no, CHeese!''). Now, in
kindergarten a couple of months from turning 6, the correct sounds come
automatically. This may happen to your son. We considered getting speech
therapy and I am so glad we waited because we saved so much money and
trouble, and she never had to think of it as a big deal.
We have two daughters - one just turned 6 and the other
just turned 4. The 4 year old, who was born 2 months
premature, is delayed approx. 1.5 years in most
developmental milestones (potty training, speaking, fine
motor skills, etc) when compared with the 6 year old.
(Thus the older daughter was able to do the same things as
the younger daughter at approximately age 2.5). The 4
year old has also recently qualified for 1 year of speech
therapy from the Albany school district since she has
speech delays. (For example, she says ''wong'' instead
of ''wrong'' or ''dare'' instead of ''there''.) The 6 year old
is doing just fine in Albany Kindergarten and is speaking,
reading and writing simple words and doing simple math.
Both children are happy and healthy.
When we visited our pediatrician, she said the 4 year old
is not significantly delayed since she can prepare cereal,
brush her teeth, play board games, dress self, copy a
circle, draw a person, do a broad jump, etc, but she did
suggest that we can have her start receiving some physical
therapy to help with some of her fine motor development.
I am concerned because I want both girls to be prepared
and do well in school. I have started working with them
for about an hour a day, including workbook excercises and
Both girls appear to be enjoying this but it's been a few
weeks, and my 4 year old has not yet learned to recognize
the letters in her name Isabella. (She has, however,
enjoyed the mazes which we do, and she's become much
better at holding a pencil.) I show her the letters - A,
B, and she gets them. Then I ask show her the "I" and "S"
and she says, "I don't know!"
Given her speech issues and her delay compared to her
sister, does this indicate a long term issue or is it
normal? Do children like this catch up? What should we
do for the next 1.5 years to prepare her for
Kindergarten? We have decided to have her attend
another year of pre-school so she will be 5.75 when
starting Kindergarten. We are also considering to switch
her from the play based school to a school with a more
structured Pre-K program?
I am not an expert, but your younger daughter sounds like she might be in the
normal range. Mine is in kindergarten now, and the kids' skills vary. Some
not even know their letters going in, and most cannot read more than the most
simple words even this late in the year.
My son was speech delayed and premie. We found the dvds by
leapfrog helped a lot. They have the letter factory, word
factory as well as reading and math for older kids. Once
my son saw the 30 min letter factory dvd, he conquered
most of his sounds and knew the alphabet (after viewing
several times). He still had other issues w/th, s and r,
but w/speech therapy most of these have been corrected
(still has a lisp). Also, his grammar wasn't the
greatest, but much better as he's in 4th grade. Once he
start reading a lot, spelling and grammar seem to come
easier to him. Having your daughter begin K later is a
great idea. There are a lot of demands on kids in the
younger years now and many need time to develop. Putting
them in class too early can make them feel bad when they
see others catching on quicker than they do. A more
structured preschool prior to K is a good idea which we
didn't do, but wished we did with our son. I would avoid
heavy on academics and still have a lot of socializing and
play w/academics as part of the program. It sounds like
your daughter isn't ready to move on re:the other letters
of the alphabet. She may catch on better watching a video
or presenting letters w/manipulatives (blocks or wooden
letter puzzles). Maybe introduce a letter a week and have
fun finding things as you go about your day that begin
w/that letter. The more fun it is the more likely she
won't get frustrated or shut down (particularily if she
sees her older sister being able to get the letters right
away). I found my son would shut down if I pushed him to
learn the ''traditional'' way (worksheets moving right
through to the next thing rather than taking is slowly and
using other methods than worksheets). He was ''slow'' to
read - really caught on after the Christmas break in 2nd
grade. He's in 4th grade now and reads, speaks and writes
pretty well. Good luck!
I wonder if your 4 year old is as delayed as you think. You compare
her to how your six-year old was at that age, but that may not tell
you very much. What is probably more helpful is comparing your child
to a range of other 4 year olds. What does her preschool teacher
think? A preschool teacher has a better idea of what the range of
''normal'' is for four-year olds, and he/she may be able to give you a
more accurate picture of your child's development.
What you have described to me does not sound alarming. That being
said, if the school district is offering some speech/language or OT
services, it certainly won't hurt to accept them. Your child's
preschool teacher can also give you a better idea of how ready your
daughter is for kindergarten and whether or not it is wise to wait a
year. Your child does not need to know all her letters upon entering
kindergarten, but kinder has gotten quite academic these days, and in
first grade the reading instruction comes fast and furious. Not all
kids are ready for it, and they often fall behind before they barely
My son turned 4 in October. He is extremely bright and very
verbal. My concern is that he still sounds a bit like Elmer
Fudd. His rs and ls still sound like ws, and his js and chs
sounds like zhs consistently, among a few more. He is aware
that some of his speech isn't clear to others and doesn't
get frustrated, but simply explains until we understand.
For example, Him: Mama, I saw a guy dressed like a pie-wit.
Me:Pilot or pirate? Him: Pie-wit. You know, the guy that
fwies the airpwane. The last time I spoke to his
pediatrician about it, it was about a year ago and she said
it was not time to worry. When should I be or is this
something he will just grow out of?
do we need speech therapy?
He sounds adorable! I love how you can so accurately mimic his speech with
Please check with your school district and see what early intervention programs
they offer for pre-schoolers. In my town (Lafayette) there is a very
intervention program where they work on speech issues among other things in
an effort to improve kindergarten readiness.
Hi, my son has similar speech patterns, and is now 5 and in
Kindergarten. At his
parent teacher conference we brought this up, as I know that in the Berkeley
schools the kids are assessed by a panel of specialists from day one,
speech therapist. The teacher said he was assessed, but does not need help as
of now. At this young age, speech impediments like this are somewhat normal,
and the kids often self-correct, or outgrow the problem.
berkeley mom of 3
You should be able to contact your school district and have
your child's assessed by a speech therapist. Chances are
he'll need speech therapy for a bit. Start with the school
district you're in and go from there. If you get the ST
through the district, it will be free. Here in Berkeley my
son (when he was 4) saw a wonderful ST at Cragmont School
and he corrected his speech relatively quickly and enjoyed
his sessions. Plus, it was great to have people be able to
understand him! Good luck.
Go on line and search for phoneme development/language development.
Here's what I found:
at 4 years: ''l'' as in lay; ''sh'' as in she; ''ch'' as in chew
at 4.6 years: ''j'' as in jaw
at 5 years: ''r'' as in red
Remember that all targets should be broad not spot on. (In other words,
some children attain a sound at an earlier age, some later.) Also speech
development has nothing to do with intelligence.
Talking to your pediatrician is a good place to start if you have any
developmental delay concerns. Ask to get a hearing test from an audiologist
if you still are worried. It can't hurt.
My son has major speech delays that have impacted his ability to learn to read
phonetically. What you are noticing seems minor to me but every child
deserves to have an accurate assessment of any delays that could impact
learning. Just because everybody's else's child did fine without any
intervention, doesn't mean that's best for your child. On the other hand,
pushing a child to do something he/she is not developmentally capable of
doing (like accurately pronouncing a particular phoneme) will lead to a lot of
frustration for you and your son.
The short answer is he needs speech therapy now. He is aware that his
speech is difficult to understand. I don't think it matters much that the
pediatrician is not very concerned, they sometimes are not even when
intervention is appropriate. I brought up the need for a speech
evaluation for my youngest at 2 when he was not babbling or talking,
just barking and screeching. To his credit, our pediatrician gave me a
long look and told me that this was my 4th child so he was not going to
argue with my mother's intuition. My older son had also spoken late but
the difference for me with this one was that he was becoming very
frustrated where his big brother had just calmly and silently absorbed
the world. From a developmental, medical and psychological standpoint,
your son is not outgrowing this on his own and is aware of his difficulty.
Insist on a speech evaluation. The worst that will happen is that he'll
learn that there are ways to help him overcome difficulties in life
Our 4.5 year old has only recently been able to hear the
difference between sss, th- and zzz sounds, so she's had a
little lisp that I was vaguely wondering about (but also
finding adorable I will admit). Every now and then I'd ask
her if she could make a clear hissy s sound, and she'd nod,
and then put that tongue tip between her teeth and do a nice
loud th instead. But suddenly, she *can* hear it! Quite
recently. And now she's very interested to know which words
have which sounds. I have no idea what suddenly ''clicked'' in
her head around this. We didn't do anything particular to
When my older kid started talking (back when I worried about
everything!) I did look up some stuff about speech
development and how to know if your kid was okay, because
she was also making some tenacious errors in her speech
(''fire f*ck'' for ''fire truck'', for example: not as cute as
her little sister's lisp). I Googled ''children's speech
development pronunciation'' or some such. My daughter's thing
was called ''cluster reduction'', and it was normal for her at
the age she was. It sounds as if your son's doing something
called ''gliding of liquids'', if you can believe it. Those
linguists and their crazy nomenclature! And they say that
it's not a problem unless he gets past his 5th birthday and
is still doing it.
My daughter had speech issues in preschool. I went to our
city's school district and set up a request to get her
speech therapy through the district. In Berkeley School
District, there is a great pre-school speech teacher, Louise
Fender - if she is still there. They will evaluate your
child and see if they qualify for assistance, given their
age and ability to make different sounds. Our daughter saw
the speech therapist once a week for so at preschool and
then at her elementary school. She can now make all the
sounds,although when she is excited she forgets. So, it is
a good age to pursue an IEP, since there is a bit of a
waiting time and by the time your child is in kindergarten,
their IEP will be all ready to go.
We just had a speech evaluation for our 4 year old (July
birthday) because of some of the same sorts of things you
are seeing. The speech therapist basically said it is
still developmentally appropriate that he talks like that
but if it is still happening in 1st or 2nd grade then we
You can call your school district and they will do a free
Please see a speech therapist. The articulation problems
you describe are not entirely rare at 4 but, as you have
noticed, can cause communication problems for the child
and are often responsive to therapy. Sometimes kids
outgrow the problem, but why prolong the situation? It is
a kindness to help them get past it sooner, if possible.
The older they get, the more conspicuous and engrained the
former speech therapist
Yes, get speech therapy & yes you should be concerned. I am a parent of a
boy who had speech therapy beginning at 3 years of age. We were told that is
the age speech therapy should begin if there are speech issues. It took a
good year of therapy before he was able to speak clearly. The teasing from
other children can definitely be an issue, so the sooner you start the better.
We got a referral from our pediatrician for speech therapy through Children's
Hospital (however budget cuts have eliminated that department), but they
would be good resource for a referral. Your insurance hopefully will pay for
this. Another great resource is the school district you live in. Believe it or
not, all school districts provide speech therapy for children beginning at age
3. All you have to do is send a letter to the school district requesting speech
therapy and they are required to contact you within three weeks of your letter.
I have to tell you that the best therapy our son received was through
Children's Hospital - it was individual twice a week, but the schools give
group therapy which didn't work as well for our son. I would also check in
with your sons doctor to find out why they didn't refer you sooner. That
seems odd. Good luck with this journey as it takes some time and is a lot of
work to correct. I believe it corrects sooner now than waiting until elementary
school. Good luck - I send you much energy for speech therapy.
Parent who has been through it
Our almost-4 year old makes a ''cchh'' sound (sounds like
German or Arabic) instead of f, sh, and s. He is
understandable if you know this and otherwise has clear
speech. He is very verbal-talked early, large vocabulary,
very complex sentences-in other words, no cognitive issues.
I am hesitant to do the early childhood screening in our
district (just moved out of CA) because I've heard horror
stories about being ''labeled special ed'' and never losing
the label. The preschool director said, ''he'd qualify for
special ed for that speech issue,'' and later referred to her
''special ed kids.'' I just hate the idea of labeling
kids-mine and others-so early and setting them up to be
carefully monitored and assessed throughout their life in
elementary school-all I would like is to have this corrected
and be done with it. What causes this issue and how can we
(if possible) address it to correct it? Is it likely
something he can overcome before kindergarten and thus not
become ''part of the system?''
As a former Kindergarten teacher (also taught 2nd and 3rd),
I spoke with many parents who were concerned about their
child's speech. Popular advice, especially from speech
therapists, is that you should have them evaluated as soon
as possible in order to get them ''help'' with a specialist.
It sounds like good advice, but in all honesty I've never
seen it be helpful. Kids *do* get stigmatized. It *does*
effect their self esteem. It even lowers teacher's
expectations for the child, even though speech has nothing
to do with intelligence.
It makes sense that it's a concern, though. It does make it
difficult for the child to communicate effectively.
However, the majority of kids will improve without any
intervention from a specialist. Several parents confessed
their joy during Spring conferences at the unexpected
improvement. I've only seen one child not improve by the
time they were in older grades, and ironically, he did see a
I think the best thing you could do is to find a
Kindergarten teacher who works to make sure that teasing
does not happen in his/her classroom, and will do intensive
phonemic work with the class. I find your preschool
teacher's need to label so many kids ''special ed'' so early
repulsive. Every child has special needs and talents.
former K teacher
Our, now 4-yr-old, has been in speech therapy through the
school district for a year. Yes, it is through the special
ed department, and yes it took me a moment to be ok with
that. No parent wants their child to be stigmatized with a
label. That said, it is very important to address speech
issues as soon as they are identified. You always have the
choice of going to a private speech therapist, but that
could be expensive. By going through the school district,
we paid nothing! My son received excellent care, 1 hour per
week, and was in a class with other little boys his age,
going through the exact same issues. By dealing with his
speech issue, and correcting them, before kindergarten, he
is less aware that there is anything ''wrong'' with him...he
just thinks of the class as yet another fun activity. I'm
not sure the same would be true if he was being pulled out
of kindergarten to attend a speech class.
In my opinion, you should try it out with the school
district...speech therapy has to be in some department, just
remind yourself that the special education teachers are
highly trained and are well qualified to assist your family.
Huge Fan of Preschool Speech Therapy
I am a speech/language pathologist in private practice.
According to what you described, your son is making unusual
sound substitutions. The more unusual the substitution is,
the harder it is for other people to understand him. In
other words, if a child says ''wabbit'' for ''rabbit,'' everyone
understands him because it is a common error. When the
errors are unusual, the listener cannot predict what is
being said. I am sure a speech pathologist could help him
and this would be a fine age to start. I do not think you
need to be worried about labeling. Alternatively, you can
see a private therapist or check if there are any speech
pathology training programs in your area where you might be
able to get (discounted) services at their clinics.
Hi, I don't know where you live and things could be
radically different there, but I think you're over-reacting
about the ''special ed'' label. My son had speeches issues
that led us to see a speech therapist when he was four
(through the school district)and there was no ''special ed''
stigma attached to it. So, it sounds as if you son also
needs a speech therapist and the school district will
provide one for him/her once you get the process started.
You may need a referral from your child's pediatrician or
pre-school/day-care provider or you may not. At any rate, a
speech therapist -- either a private one or through the
school district -- should be able to solve this issue! Good
I used to make a TH for S so thun instead of sun. A speech
therapist in elementary school worked with me to fix the
speech problem which was caused by improperly placement of
my tongue between my teeth when sounding a S. Today they
have labels for everything and if you are worried about
being labeled perhaps try a different approach to working
with your child on the speech development or hire a
private speech therapist. The problem could also stem from
hearing? If your child does not hear sound at certain
frequencies it could cause a problem in his ability to
enunciate certain words as they would sound garbled or
phonics would all sound CCHH instead of f, sh or s.
wise old sage i.e. wiseguy
My son just turned 3 and his speech is very hard to understand.
He favors using certain consonants (d and n) and can't use
others (s, for example).
He gets very frustrated when we don't understand him. Even though
I stay home with him, so I listen to him all day, I can't
understand about 30 percent of what he is saying. This is the
cause of most of his tantrums and is really frustrating for both
When he was a baby, our lactation consultant said he had a very
high palate, so maybe that is the problem, I don't know.
I don't want to make him feel bad, but I have lost my temper
after a year of tantrums and him yelling at me that I don't
understand him, and I yelled at him that he needed to speak more
clearly if he wanted me to understand (I know--this goes in the
annals of terrible motherhood).
Should we try to find a speech pathologist? I have tried slowly
mouthing words to him, but it isn't helping much.
He is developing normally in all other areas, as far as I can tell.
trying hard to understand my boy
This sounds so much like my niece's experience that I had to
respond. She, too, was very difficult to understand when she
was three. My daughter, who is not quite two years younger, was
actually easier for me to understand! It turned out that my
niece had really frequent ear infections, and the fluid buildup
was interfering with her hearing -- thus, delaying her speech.
She was repeating speech as she heard it, which must have
sounded like listening to someone talk underwater! Once this
was diagnosed, she had shunts put in to drain the fluid, and
you would be amazed how quickly her speech improved. She's ten
now, and you would never guess there was ever any delay in her
speech development. If your son has frequent ear infections, it
might be worth investigating whether they're interfering with
his hearing. Just one possibility ...
I would recommend talking with your pediatrician. We had our
daughter evaluated for a speech issue, and were eventually able
to get her speech therapy for free through the Berkeley Unified
School District (they provide services for children age 3 and
up). I assume other districts have a similar program, but don't
know for sure.
By age three, family and strangers alike should be able to
understand a child's speech. But don't worry -- this is the
perfect time to get intervention. My daughter also needed
speech services. We started her at 3 so she'd have two years of
speech therapy before kindergarten. Here's what to do:
Talk to your child's pediatrician and ask for a referral for
speech and language testing. Your child should be tested to
rule out hearing problems, auditory processing issues or
physiological problems. Sometimes when a child's speech is
unclear, the underlying problem is not comprehension, but
articulation, and they just need to strengthen the muscles in
their mouths and jaws and practice making sounds correctly.
Through your public school district, you can set up an IEP
(Individual Learning Plan) for your son even though he is not
yet in school. This will save you a ton of money. You can then
set up therapy with preschool speech and language specialists.
Wow! I could've wrote this EXACT concern about my son. I just
got my son (age 3) evaluated through our school district's
early intervention program (WCCUSD). He too had difficulties
while breastfeeding with him latching on correctly, can't
pronounce certain letters (s,f), and even drooled alot until
recently. I'm not sure if there's the same
program in other school districts, but all I did was submit a
written request with my concerns and he got evaluated within 90
days. They did a quick vision test, hearing test, and then
tested his sentence lengths, comprehension, and articulation.
His overall assesment is that he's around a year behind in
speech and is now qualified for FREE speech therapy each week.
I had nothing but good experiences so far with this program and
definitely recommend getting evaluated. It
doesn't hurt, and only helps your child in the end to build
confidence in his speech and communication. Good luck to you
I can't speak specifically to where you live, but start by
calling your local school district. In our area, three year olds
in need of speech therapy are covered by the school district.
Your district can tell you whether they will do the assessment or
where to go to get one. If he needs speech therapy, then it
probably will be covered.
Don't stress about it. My best-friend's three-year-old is in
therapy and has been for about six months. It has helped
tremendously. Which doesn't mean that she and I (her daughter
spends lots of time at my home) don't periodically throw our arms
up in complete confusion. And, don't get worry about the
battles. Every mom has them.
Have your son get a speech therapy evaluation! He is not
purposely speaking unclearly. A speech therapy evaluation will
decrease your frustration and his.
Children do not learn their speech sounds all at once (''s'' is late
developing and r sounds may wait until third grade!) but the
communication problems your child is experiencing suggest he should be
seen by a speech language pathologist. Public law ensures a free
speech screening, and a comprehensive evaluation and therapy if
needed. Contact the speech therapist at your local public school and
ask who provides these for three year olds. A speech language
pathologist who works with young children will tell you if your
child's speech is developing normally, if the high palette is a
factor, ways to communicate more successfully until he gets his
sounds, and how to access free therapy if it is indicated. Best
You can have him evaluated through your pediatrician or your
public school district. Early intervention is the most successful
for speech articulation needs.
I am the director of Word Works, Speech-Language Pathologists
Inc. in Oakland. Our staff specializes in preschool speech and
language delays and disorders. I highly recommend bringing
your son to us or another clinic soon, to help determine what
is going on with his speech.
Typically at age 3 a child should be pretty easy to
understand. While there are some sounds that will continue to
develop for several years, he should not be as frustrated as
you described. It sounds like he is definitely struggling and
aware that it is hard to communicate his thoughts, and he could
benefit from some intervention.
From age 3 on you can go to your school district for a free
evaluation and therapy, however it can take several months to
get the process going. Therefore, I recommend going to a
clinic such as ours to get the ball rolling faster.
It is often more productive for someone else to work with your
child rather than trying to help them yourself, which can cause
much frustration. We will help give you ideas and techniques
to work with your child at home. All of our therapists work
with children in a positive, playful, and productive way. You
can look us up at www.wordworkstherpy.com
Hope this is helpful!
I would call your local school district right away and let them
know that you would like to schedule a speech assessment for your
child. They will do such assessments beginning at age 3 and
should be able to provide speech services if your child
qualifies. GOod luck!
I would first get his hearing checked and then see a speech
I think it's perfectly normal to not be able to understand a 3
year old. My daughter is 38 months old and often times, I
don't understand what she says. Either because she's not
pronouncing it correctly or she's thinking one thing but saying
another. And yes because of that she has tantrums. I think
the best things to do is if you know which sounds are hard to
pronounce try to use words with those sounds more often in your
We have had a similar issue with our son. He is now 4 and begins
speech therapy today. It might be worth having him evaluated
through the school district or from a referral from your
pediatrician. I empathize with the frustration on your part and
the part of your son. speech was a huge part of his frustration
and later self-consciousness. It doesn't hurt to have it checked
out. I have heard that some boys develop speech later and now at
4 my son is much better but there are clearly some sounds that he
has great difficulty with. He actually also has a super short
frenulum which we are having clipped in a few weeks. That is by
an ENT- they call it tongue tied. As for the S sounds- they are
said to develop later anyway- but why not have him evaluated.
on the road to undertanding
You have two issues: 1.) a potential speech delay and 2.) how to
handle temper tantrums.
According to the chart on this website
at 3-years-old you should understand ninety percent of a child's
speech. So it sounds like it's time to get an assessment. After
three, your local school district does these assessments for free and
if needed provides therapy. You may also qualify for therapy through
your health insurance. (Sometimes the school district speech therapy
is not enough.) Not only will this help your child's intelligibility
with you but it will help him with friendships and academically. My
son, too, had this issue and has made great progress with speech
About the tantrums, improving his speech probably won't make them go
away. But working on parenting skills can help you deal with them and
keep you from feeling like a frustrated, inadequate parent. A book
that has helped me with my preschooler and my middle schooler is ''The
Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child with No Pills, No
Therapy, No Contest of Wills'' by Alan Kazdin. I got it from the
library. It's a behavior modification approach (which usually turns
me off) but it works--primarily by changing the parent to focusing on
the desired behavior.
I don't think he needs a speech therapist. I think this is really
common and I can share my experience. It might help. My son just
turned three as well and I was having trouble understanding him
about a month ago. After a tantrum (about something unrelated to
speech actually), I was just holding him and really feeling a lot
of empathy in my heart and maybe he sensed that so he turned to
me and said ''Mama, I don't talk weally good.'' I could see how
frustrated he was and I just held him a little while and then
told him a story. The story was about someone who was still
learning how to do something (you could make one up about things
he is interested in -- a firefighter or chef for example) and
some people in the story said ''You don't do that very good'' but
he kept trying and sometimes made mistakes but in the end got a
little better every day. After the story my son seemed to feel
lighter after that he relaxed a lot more when talking...and I
tried extra hard to really listen to him and be patient... not
completing sentences for him or correcting him. I remember the
first time he said ''Blue'' instead of ''Boo'' and he was so proud of
himself. I said, ''I noticed you said Blue. You must have been
practicing! Good for you.'' He just beamed. I just think it is
important to emphasize the practice and not just give blanket
encouragement like ''No, you talk really good!'' when he is
obviously frustrated with his speech. He is using a lot more
consonants than he did before. He stutters from time to time when
he is rushing to get the words out (also really normal for this
age) and I am really careful to slow myself down when this
happens. Sometimes I say, ''I'm listening'' or ''My ears are open.''
This helps a lot! It is really normal for this age to feel
inadequate, and people can be so insensitive sometimes (like
parroting back ''cute'' speech to them). We can help them get
through it with patience and gently encouraging them to practice.
I also point out skateboarders or kids playing soccer (he's
really interested in them) and use words like practicing or
making mistakes and trying again to emphasize process not
product. It must be frustrating for three year olds to hear what
''Great swimmers'' or ''Great dancers'' or ''Great runners'' they are
when they are really still learning and growing and they get
frustrated with their own performance. When I emphasize process,
he seems much more content. I hope this helps.
Mama's still learning too!
If he is 3 he qualifies for speech evaluation through the
school district and free services if he needs them. Call your
school and ask about their early intervention speech
screening. My daughter received services through the district
for a year from 3.5 to 4.5 and it is amazing how much clearer
her speech became from just a one hour a week class.
speech therapy mom
Yes, my son had similar problems at the same age. We called the
school district and they did a formal assessment and assigned
him a speach therapist. He went for perhaps a year with much
improvement. The therapist was very skilled at working with a 3
You should contact your local public school district and request
and speech and language assessment. They are required to provide
a free assessment to any child over the age of three.
You should contact a speech-language pathologist as soon as you can.
You should be able to understand 95-100% of what your child is saying
by the age of 3 (not content-which can get wacky, but the sounds, how
s/he articulates). Call your local school district to get set up with
services. However, that can take a while and may not be enough.
Private speech therapy is really expensive, but you can get a very
thorough program. Look up speech-language pathologists in yahoo
yellow pages. You will get a lot of referrals. If you get help now,
your child still has a chance of catching up to his peers and it
lessens the risk of falling behind in his academic and social
development. Don't wait. It won't harm him to meet with a SLP and it
may help a lot.
While it's not all that unusual for three-year-olds to still have
some unclear speech, the details of your post gave me pause.
Considering his high palate, it is possible that he has some
degree of ''tongue tie'' (the tongue shapes the palate, and if the
tongue can't elevate enough, the palate remains high rather than
broad). This condition isn't always obvious, and the less obvious
cases often get missed (or denied) by doctors and speech
therapists. Can he stick his tongue all the way out, even with
his mouth wide open? Can he touch the top of his mouth with his
tongue (with both the tip and the center)? Can he move his
tongue over his molars on both sides without it twisting over? If
the answer to any of these is no,that may be part of the problem.
I also wonder if he has any issues with feeding (picky about
textures; difficulty with, or avoids, foods that require a lot of
- - - -
My sister lives in Sacramento and her son had similar speaking
difficulties. Here is her advise:
Aaron's pediatrician referred us to Alta Regional (Alta
California?) for speech therapy. It's totally free, because
our tax dollars pay for it. I think it changes after three
years old though. I think it's through the school district,
but still free. Your BP should ask her doctor or call Alta and
ask them. They are SOOO nice and helpful! They will call and
then send someone to evaluate the child and take it from there.
i think you need speech theraphy for you little one. i have a
boy who is going to be 3 1/2 years old. he use to have the same
problem. so i look for help. right now he is going to a pre
school with the unifed school and he is reciving all the help.
hi is speaking much clear now and every day he is learning new
what they toll me is that he got speech delay, but with help he
will be ok. and he is thanks God.
Do not worry, just find the right help, your little angel will
be ok. you will see.
good luck and God bless you.
you can write me if you need any information.
At 3, your child is entitled to educational evaluations by your
school district for free. Contact the special education
coordinator and ask for a speech and language evaluation. He can
receive services (speech and language therapy) if he is found
My son has speech issues too. Lots of kids have problems annunciating
but do not have any other developmental problems. My son gets speech
therapy through the school district for free. We live in West Contra
Costa county and there is a wonderful program at Cameron School for
kids with delays. It can be really frustrating for everyone when your
child has trouble communicating. But please try to be patient with
him. I know it is hard. It sounds like he is physically unable to make
the sounds he wants to. Our son was unintelligible to most people at 2
years old. Now at 3 1/2 he is almost caught up to normal. Definitely
talk to your doctor or call the school district about speech therapy.
There are fantastic Early Childhood Intervention programs that
you can utilize if you are concerned. Try Cameron School in El
Cerrito, the staff there is fantastic and can access your child
to see if there is a problem. They can also teach you how to
interact with your child (through sign, etc) to help you have a
more pleasant interaction.
My child just turned four a couple of months ago, and I'm
having trouble figuring out whether she needs speech therapy or
is just experiencing normal speech difficulties for her age.
For the past three or four months, she often stutters 4-5 times
on the first sound of a word. She is also completely unable to
make the ''R'' sound. She loves to talk, and it seems to me that
the stutter tends to happen when she's thinking about what she
wants to say or changes her mind mid-sentence. There is a
history of stuttering on one side of the family, which has
prompted my concern. I'm not sure whether to pursue this now
or wait, and would really appreciate hearing from others.
Also, if you do think I should pursue it, what are your
suggestions about how to do that?
Not sure if there's a problem
I am not a speech teacher but I have been teaching for 20
years. The 'r' sound (or lack thereof) will not be considered
a problem until age 7. Eventhough your child has not entered
kindergarten, public school districts do screen for
speech/language issues starting at age 3. You can call your
local school district office to get more information.
The place to start would be to have your child evaluated by a
speech-language pathologist associated with a children's
hospital.(If you get a referral from your pediatrician, your
insurance will pay for the evaluation.) The speech-language
pathologists at Oakland's Children's Hospital, for example, are
excellent. I have personal experience with them, as my own child
had an issue and was evaluated by them. Even though I am a
language professional, they picked up on important things that I
myself hadn't even noticed. The evaluators will tell you where
to go from there - they'll answer all your questions about what
is going on, how to address it and roughly what lies ahead for
you, and they will recommend speech pathologists in your child's
needed area. Regarding age of when to start, I don't know about
the stuttering issue (if that is even what it is; my son would
do something similar to what you describe though it was clearly
because he was thinking and it was not stuttering), but as for
the articulatory issue: (a) r's are developmentally one of the
harder sounds, it just may mean your daughter has a slower
maturation curve, and (b) children respond differently to
articulatory speech therapy at different ages. There are a lot
of drills and homework practice, and I found my own son at age 7
extremely motivated and able to focus, so he completed his
re-training in 4 months. Not sure how focused a younger child
will be. Again, the evaluator will be able to tell you much more
from their own experience. (One last thing - avoid relying on
speech therapy offered by the public schools, go for one
associated with a hospital or a reliable private practice. My
son's speech therapist (associated with a hospital) said that in
her experience working in a school setting, schools are woefully
understaffed and underfunded, so that children must meet in group
sessions and nothing gets accomplished. Children need the
First, I'd ask your pediatrician what he or she thinks about
your child's speech - I found that many pediatricians tend to
think more ''developmentally'' as our pediatrician thought our
son's difficulty with articulation was developmentally/age
appropriate though my gut told me that there was more to it.
Our pediatrician referred us to Children's Hospital Speech
Pathology Clinic for an evaluation when he was about 2 1/2.
When he turned 3, we went through our school dsitrict (OUSD) as
they will screen a child and provide appropriate speech therapy
services if needed. This route worked for us. Good luck!
Been there, done that
In the first grade, I couldn't say ''s'' -- it didn't impact my
ability to understand or be understood, (which is some school
discticts' criteria for speech therapy) but my parents had
me ''fixed'' and i'm glad they did. One of my best friends in the
world stutters like a champ, and while he's married, two kids,
successful career, etc., he's a stutterer, and it's ... annoying
for him and others. I'd say that if a speech therapist can
help, let them help.
As a teacher with over 10 years experience and a mother of a
son with a speech delay, I say call the Regional Center of the
East Bay NOW. Their services are free- paid for by our tax
I think the younger a child's speech issues can be addressed
the better the hope for the future. Besides your time, what
have you got to lose? I was concerned about the social fallout
for my son with his speech issues. As you notice your child's
stuttering, so do others. Sometimes kids (and adults) can be
less than kind and patient. Now at 6 years old his speech is
clear, he's an excellent reader and I'm glad he got services.
My 7 yr old stutters in a similiar pattern. We had him
assessed by the school district just before kindergarten (at no
cost to our family). He is pulled out of class once or twice a
week for about 20 min. by a speech therapist. His stuttering
has really improved. On the clinical scale, he has gone from
moderate to mild in the 2.5 years since he started the
therapy. Also, his attitude towards stuttering is really
healthy and positive. The therapist is nice and gives him
treats. The stuttering foundation has a good website. Cameron
School in EC has some info., as well. Good luck.
We began to take notice that our our 5 year old son seemed to
be struggling with getting out a number of different words and
sounds at around 3. I asked his pediatrician about it and she
said that it was common and that he should grow out of it. At
his 4 year check up, he was not only still stuttering, but it
seemed to be getting worse. She was still unconcerned but by 4
1/2, I was. So I requested a referral to be seen by a
specialist. He was assessed by a therapist at Children's
Hospital who indeed thought that he could benefit from speech
therapy. We then got an approval for 12 sessions with a
children's speech therapist at Alta Bates and have been seeing
her since February. I also called our school district, Alameda
Unified, and have gotten him pre-approved for ongoing therapy
once he enters kindergarten in the fall, should he need it.
What really drove me to pursue all of this now was that I
wanted to get a good headstart on addressing the issue before
he entered kindergarten and his stuttering became a social
concern for him. We are almost done with our initial 12
sessions, and we are now starting to see noticeable
improvement. Feel free to email me directly if you have any
My 4.5 year old daughter pronounces ''s'' with a slight twist
of ''th'', and you can see her tounge protruding from her teeth,
when she says anything with ''s'' (so I think hers can be
classified as the ''inderdental'' type). It is not very severe,
and does not interfere with her intelligibility (everybody can
understand what she is saying). She is bilingual and lisping
occurs in both languages (whereas in the other language, ''th''
sound does not exist). I am concerned, because if it contiues
like this, she might be one of those people with a slight lisp
in adulthood. What if she wants to become a singer or
something? Is it time to take action yet, or is it too early?
If I needed to take her to a speech therapist, do you have any
recommendations? I don't even know where to start from to look
for a speech therapist. Does Kaiser have them, or can an
initial assessment be done in pre-school or when she starts
school next year?
Thank you for your advice.
Your school district will assess your child's speech needs
beginning at age 3, I believe. Contact your local school
district. Do it now, you are not too early!!!
I recently went through this with my child and so can give you
The place to start is to get your child evaluated by a pediatric
speech therapist associated with a hospital. I am familiar with
two, Children's Hospital Oakland, via their speech & language
center on Claremont Ave., and Herrick/Alta Bates Pediatric
Rehabilitation, speech & language center, on Dwight Way in
Berkeley. Both of these are excellent. I don't know if your
Kaiser insurance will allow you to be referred their by your
pediatrician. If there is a Kaiser in-house evaluation process,
then do it there I suppose. But starting with this type of
evaluation is key. I would start here rather than having her
evaluated in the schools.
The evaluator will then tell you how to proceed and where best to
sign up for speech therapy. They will tell you if this is
something to be concerned about at 4.5 years or if she'll outgrow
it, if there is an anatomical issue, exactly which sound contexts
she lisps in (i.e. it may be only when S is before/after certain
sounds) and if there are any other issues in addition.
I can recommended extremely highly the speech therapists at
Herrick Speech & Language, Angela Korpela and Meredith
Trowbridge. They do evaluation as well as the therapy itself.
They are both fantastic, work extremely well with children, very
knowledgeable. Their scheduler Cathy 204-6729 can put you in
touch with them. You may want to initially ask to talk to Angela
as she has been practicing there for 18 years and can inform you
about your daughter based on much prior experience. I spoke to
her myself initially and was so impressed I was willing to be on
her waiting list just to get a chance to work with her. My son
actually wound up with Meredith Trowbridge, who joined the group
this June (we didn't want to wait any longer) - Meredith was
fantastic. We were told that 6 months would be extremely speedy
progress on my son's issue, and Meredith helped my son finish in
1) Insurance approval is difficult to get. Speech therapy is
expensive to pay out of pocket, but that's what we did and I am
so glad, my son's speech is beautiful.
2) Your child will be assigned daily excercises by the speech
therapy. Do these diligently. This is where the real progress
is made. The weekly 45 minute sessions are for progress
diagnostics, assigning and introducing new techniques and drills,
and teaching the child how to focus in on the issue and be aware
of it and be able to hear not good/good sounds. But don't expect
progress just by the therapy sessions, in my experience
everything hinges on teaching the tongue muscle new skills by
daily repetition at home.
Believer in speech therapy
I posted just above about Herrick Speech and just wanted to add
one more thing: while speech therapy is expensive, paying out of
pocket is less expensive than it could be. If you are denied by
your insurance, then Herrick/Alta Bates can set you up with an
uninsured discount, which was something like 40 or 50%, I don't
recall the exact figure, and then if you pay your bill within 30
days you can call a special phone number on the bill to receive a
prompt payment further 20% discount.
Also, age may make a difference in the speed of the progress,
talk to Angela or Meredith about this. My child was highly
motivated at 7 to be able to finally speak clearly, I don't know
if he would have been as focused at a younger age...maybe..I just
don't have any experience of this sort.
Believer in speech therapy
I am a Speech-Language Pathologist. What you are describing is not developmentally
wrong. In the scheme of possible speech issues, it is relatively minor. Correcting an
''s'' takes quite a bit of self-discipline and I find it is often hard for 4-year-olds
follow through, although many 4 year olds can fix it if they are into it. If it is not
affecting her intelligibility and she is not being teased or doesn't feel bad about it,
it isn't imperative that you take care of it now. It won't necessarily get harder for
fix later if it persists (and it may be easier to fix when she is older and more mature
and can tolerate the repetitive exercises). Really, unless she will be a professional
speaker when she grows up, there is nothing super horrible about having a tiny lisp.
At what age is lisping not OK anymore? My daughter's tounge sticks out between
her teeth when trying to make an ''S'' sound. If I show her my mouth, and ask her
do it properly, she can after some trying. But, she doesn't normally. Her ''tch''
sounds are a bit off as well. It's very cute, actually, and doesn't bother me, but
no idea at what age it's necessary to intervene in order for her not to be an
with a lisp.
We have gone through some similar concerns with our son. Your
local school district should be able to test your child to see
whether she's on track. We had our son tested by the school
district as well as privately -- the private speech therapist
gave us a flier with information on appropriate ages for
certain sounds, and the ''s'' sound is listed at 7 -- meaning
that they should have mastered the sound by 7. However, if you
would feel better, try to pursue at least an assessment through
the school district!
been there, unconcerned now
My step-mother is a speech therapist and special ed teacher in
S. CA. From her, I have learned that you can get free speech
therapy from your school district BEFORE your child enters
kindergarten. Call your school district and find out what the
requirements are. Usually, you begin with an evaluation.
My neice had the same issue at age three, and my sister got her
into the school speech therapy program at age 3 or 4. She
progressed well, but continued until she was about 8.
Try contacting your local public school. She may be eligible to receive speech
therapy at about this age. I beleive that by law the school districts can give services
such as speech therapy even before beginning school. It is something worth
3 is still early, many children -especially boys- have
articulatory issues that don't resolve until 1st grade even,
and all children have different articulatory developmental
curves so don't necessarily go by what other girls her age
are doing. But if it will ease your mind, I'd suggested having
her evaluated by one of the speech pathologists associated
with Children's Hospital in Oakland, get a referreal from your
pediatrician. Don't go to one of the independent speech
therapists in the area. I've actually been down this road for
my child, and Children's Hosptial were excellent. The
independent ones I felt didn't know their stufff. Good luck!
I'm not speech-language pathologist, but I do know that I lisped
as a child. And around first grade-second grade I went to an
SLP, and she fixed me, easy.
This is my question; my child is not verbal at all. he likes to
talk but is totally non-understandable. the doctor says it is up
to him to make it happen i.e. certain constanants etc. are vacant
from his speech. the doctor says it's developmental. he has to
develope it on his own. we read to him, he loves books. he likes
to learn and seems like he wants to talk but just can't find the
words. literally. has anyone ever been in this situation? what
happens at ''speech therapy'' clases. is it necessary to get them?
he is developing normal, does it even matter? he is just three in
November? he will catch up adventualy?
when my boy was almost 3, he started speech therapy for
articulation issues (just couldn't undertsand him!) it was free
through the school district, call the special ed office. I
brought him in once a week, it's not a ''class'' it was 1-on-1 game
playing with a teacher. he loved it! and he got much clearer
My now 4 year old daughter is well understood by all. She has
had speech therapy for a year (with the summer off). She was
getting frustrated because it was hard to understand her. She
goes to the Cameron School. It's early childhood prevention
through the West Contra Costa School District. You have to live
in the District to go. If you do, call them, get your child
assesed and go. She loves it, can't wait for her 2x a week
sessions. There's four children and they meet for 45 mintues
and is great. They do fun things, projects, art etc. It's THE
hidden jewel in the district. She's so happy. Even this
morning the preschool teacher commented how great her speech
is. Much luck!
cheers for speech
Here in Oakland (you will need to check with your school dist)
your child is eligible for speech, lang and occupational therapy
starting at age 3 if s/he qualfies. The diagnostic evaluation is
free, why not have your child tested? My daughter was not a
severe case, but she did qualify and the past 6 months of speech
and OT have done wonders for her (she is almost 4 now). She gets
free services at our local elem school and they have been great.
At 3, the schoool system becomes responsible through early
intervention programs. Contact your local school district about
having your child evaluated once he turns 3, and they will
determine if he is eligible for services through the school
If you want to do something immediately, or if he is deemed
ineligible by the school district, you could have an evaluation
done by a private speech therapist. Treatment will depend on his
My son underwent therapy through the school system and with a
private therapist starting at age 3. He was having problems
socializing at preschool because the other kids couldn't
understand him. His was an articulation issue, and the sessions
primarily consisted of playing games that involved making
specific sounds that he had trouble with. We also had homework
to practice at home. My son might have outgrown it on his own,
but I think the therapy helped him improve more quickly
Speech Therapy Graduate
at three I believe they are supposed to be putting two words
together, my son has a speech problem but he has CP. he is now 5
and his speech is not clear, he does alot of mumbling,
I would say, get him evaluated, when it comes to your childs
development dont listen to people/doctors that tell you to ''lets
wait and see'' that does not work, my son started speech therapy
at 2, you should push to get him evaluated the school district
can do that for you. They start them at 3, they can also do the
eval if your doctor refuses to do anything, and is telling
you ''lets wait and see'' go with your mommy instinct...
good luck..and I hope all is well
Pediatricians can tend to be too conservative about child
development, particularly if you have a boy. ''He'll grow out of
it'' is not always the right answer. I recommend having your child
evaluated by a developmental pediatrician or by the Regional
Center. If there is a problem, you absolutely need to find out
sooner rather than later
Your son's doctor might be right (2- and 3-year-olds are often
hard to understand). Since you are worried, check out this
website to make sure your child is meeting developmental
milestones in his speech.
If not, show your doctor the list, and ask for a referral for a
speech language evaluation. A speech language pathologist can
assess his communication development to tell you whether or not
your child needs speech language therapy. Once your child turns
3, you could also contact your local school district for an
assessment. (Then you won't need the pediatrician's referral)
A speech language pathologist (and mother)
If your child is close to three (as in less than 3 months until his 3rd b-day) contact your
local school district and have him assessed by the speech therapist. If he qualifies for
speech therapy, the school district will cover it. You could pay privately, but the
assessments are expensive and hourly therapy ranges from $80 to $120 per hour. You
can contact the Regional Center of the East Bay 510-383-1200 as well (ask for the
assessment intake worker for kids under three years of age). But they will only cover
services until your child is 3 years old. It takes a while to go through the assessment
process...so the District might be a better bet. Good luck,
My son also had no understandable words but used a lot of imaginary
conversational sounds at 2-1/2, too. People kept telling me not to worry because
boys develop speech later than girls, Albert Einstein didn't speak until he was seven,
their uncle/son/whoever was just like my child and now holds a Ph.D., etc., etc., etc.
Suffice it to say, now at 3 years old my son should have 900-1,000 vocabularly
words, be speaking in 3 word sentences, and have 90% of his words be
understandable. None of which is close to the case. (For language development
milestones see www.childdevelopmentinfo.com/development/
Call your school district for a speech assesment. They start providing services at 3
years old and will assess children who are near that age. Even if you choose not to
use the district's free services (paid for by your tax dollars), at least you'll know
where your child's language development stands. My son's assessment helped me
understand his particular issues and his speech therapy (twice a week for 45
minutes each) gives me techniques for helping him produce sounds that
increasingly make his speech more understandable (along with increasing his
I don't care if he would have ''grown out of this'' someday. My child deserves to use
words to make friends, use words instead of screams or fists to resolve conflicts,
use words to talk about his feelings, ideas, dreams, fears--just like other children
his age. So why wait this out when speech therapy can help him do this now? What
I really don't understand--especially since speech delays are easier to resolve earlier
rather than later--is why so many people encouraged me to chance it and just wait
You should contact a speech therapist. A speech therapist will
evaluate your child's speech, or lack there of, and ability to
understand language. Speech therapy will help you child use
language and it's usually fun. There are lots of speech
therapists in the area - here is the practice that evaluated my
child when he was young (3.5yrs) Amy Faltz and associates
510-654-3381 they have an office on Piedmont ave and one on
You might wait until he turns 3, then contact your school
district for an evaluation. It is free, and if they find that he
is in need of speech therapy, that is free as well. I suggest
waiting until he turns 3, because prior to age 3 he would fall
under the jurisdiction of the regional center, but once he turns
3 he would start receiving services through the school district.
The transfer over can be kind of a hassle, so you might as well
wait until he actually is 3. Good luck!
You have every right to have your child evaluated if you
believe he has speech issues. Since he is almost three,
contact your city's school district and explain your concerns.
They will perform the evaluation and decide whether or not he
qualifies for speech therapy. Your child is entitled to this
by law through the Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act. As a teacher and a mother of a child who received speech
therapy, my advice to you is to trust your instincts and have
your child evaluated.
P.S. Your son should have his hearing tested, too.
Insist on a speech evaluation. All children develop at
different rates, some do speak later than others. Most children
are intelligible by age 3. Your child should also have a
hearing evaluation and any good speech pathologist will require
one prior to the speech evaluation. They might find that there
is nothing wrong, but if your child is truly having problems,
therapy is needed. Not being able to communicate becomes very
frustrating, particularly as children start preschool. Insist on
I'm looking for speech therapist recommendations for my 3 1/2
year old son. I'd like to find someone who is mostly play based
and not too structured...someone that my son will look forward
to seeing once or twice/week! We're looking to find someone in
the Berkeley/Oakland/Albany area.
Our pediatrician recommended that we try our local school district for speech
therapy. My son sees a therapist two times a week for 30 - 45 minutes. He has
made vast improvements and there was no fee to me.
Please request an evaluation from your school district! Pinole Mom of 4 year old
Louise Fender (655-2175) helped my daughter with her speech. She played
games--something different every time--gave little treats, and was very effective.
My daughter really looked forward to seeing her. She also came to our house in
North Berkeley, which was great. I found her through a BPN listing and am happy to
second the recommendation
I am really worried about my sons speech language development.
He has good vocabulary, but for example he transposes
words/letters. His articulation of words is at times hard to
understand (it is cute - still like baby talk), though his
vocabulary is broad. Like he can't pronounce the letters: f or s
at the beginning of a word. Snake is ''nake'', frog is ''wog''. I'm
wondering where do I get him tested? What is available for
assessing preschoolers and where do I start?
Also is it covered by healthcare? Are there pediatricians who
can do testing? other resources? preschools and schools for
children with language learning issues, any information at all.
I've researched online and also in the archives but the
information is not recent, and most is for older children.
thank you in advance for any advice.
desperately worried mom
I am currently taking my 3 year old son to the Cameron School
in El Cerrito for speech/language therapy. I'm not sure where
you are located or what their policy is as far as treating
children in Berkeley/Oakland since they are part of the West
Contra Costa school district, but it's worth calling and
checking out. The number is 233-1955 and since it is state
funded, there is no cost to us.
From what you describe, it sounds like your child may have a
phonological disorder (sound system problems for speech
production). Speech Language Pathologists are the professionals,
who assess and treat speech & language problems. You may find
these professionals listed in the Yellow Pages or by visiting the
American Speech, Language and Hearing Association website.
However, there aren't many professionals in private practice and
they are typically quite expensive. You may consider contacting
your local school district, because as a parent of a child over
36 months, you may request that your child be assessed. He may
not qualify for services because the districts have strigent
criteria. California State University East Bay (AKA Hayward) has
a university clinic, where I am the Clinic Director. You can
seek info about our clinical services on the University Website
or by calling 885-3233. SFSU also has a training clinic.
Lastly, you may want to discuss your concerns with your
pediatrician to seek out his/her advice.
I hope this cursory response is helpful.
Call your local school system and ask for an appointment for
your child to evaluated by the preschool speech/language
therapist. They may refer you to a SELPA (Special education
local plan area) for the appoinment. It is a free service and
you can get your questions answered by a qualified therapist.
If you have amazing insurance, an evaluation may be a covered
benefit. Ask your child's primary care doctor for their
Call the school district, and ask them where to address a
request for an evaluation. The school district provides these
services, even before your son enters school (and yes, it's
free).Then, put your request in writing, and send it certified
mail. You may also want to talk with your pediatrician about
normal development,what to expect when, etc. Many kids are saved
a great deal of trouble by getting early intervention with
speech and/or hearing so you are absolutely doing the right
thing to follow up. Good luck. You can find information also
at ''LD Online''
You don't say where you live, but school districts are usually
the ones that carry out the Federal and State (I believe) mandate
to offer free speech therapy/testing (and other learning
disorders) to kids 3 and over (see the California Department of
Health Services Early Start program website:
www.dds.ca.gov/earlystart). My daughter is 3 and currently in
speech therapy through the Oakland Unified School District. I was
very impressed with the speed with which they did the testing
(one nurse visit followed by one speech evaluation) and then the
therapy started (w/in one week of the evaluation). Granted, I had
to follow up and push a bit, but it was great. And its free.If
you are in Oakland, call the OUSD Diagnostic Center and say you
want to get your child tested. If not, I don't have a number for
you but maybe the OUSD Diagnostic Center could direct you, or
check the website above.
You can also do it privately, and during the summer break we will
be doing this through Children's Hospital. For us it all started
with the pediatrician who sent us to an ENT who got her hearing
tested, which found a deficit, which lead to surgery, which fixed
the problem, and in there he ''prescribed'' a speech evaluation.
She has articulation problems like your child. This was all paid
through via insurance. Then once she turned 3 we went to OUSD
who as I've said we've been very happy with and will stick with
for now. Good luck.
Start with your pediatrician. Depending on your health insurance, initial testing may
be covered. My son's testing was covered by Kaiser. Depending on the results, you
will then probably be referred to your local school district. School districts in
California provide free therapy and/or preschool for a variety of problems that can
be considered learning disabilities, for kids aged 3 to 18. Speech problems
definitely fall under that category! My son was enrolled in the county early
intervention program for speech delay, and is now transitioning to our local school
district. The good news is, therapy works! Fear not, I am sure they can help your
My daughter had the same problem until a bit older. Pre-schools
pressured me to take her to a speech therapist to get tested. I
consulted a linguist who is a specialist in language acquisition
and was told that the only reason to get speech therapy is
psychological. Kids can tease at school. Otherwise, as children
develop, they become able to pronounce the letters without the
need for therapy. The inability to pronounce letters correctly
does not interfere with the child's ability to perceive
differences in sounds, and therefore will not affect how the
child learns to read and write (if I imitated my daughter's
wrong pronunciation she would point out my mistake). Thus, we do
not see older children, teens or adults with this problem. My
daughter is 10 and has been speaking perfectly since she was
about 5. At that time, again under school pressure, I asked her
whether she wanted to go to a special teacher (speech
therapist). She said she wanted me to teach her. I chose a
letter at a time, showed her first how to position her mouth,
teeth and tongue to make the sound, and drilled her and
corrected her for about two days. As she got a letter, we moved
on to the next. We did this for all but one, which she got on
her own. She never had speech therapy and this never affected
her performance in school. I am sure speech therapists will
provide you with many reasons to seek their professional help,
but I am personally very invested in demedicalizing our
differences, so I was happy to learn from a specialist with no
financial interest in promoting therapy that this is an issue
which does not need ''treatment''.
The pronunciation you described (''nake'' for snake and ''wog'' for
frog)is not that unusual for a 3-year-old. I studied Speech
Language Pathology and checked the norms after reading your
post. Though half of 3-year-olds pronounce /f/, most (90%) can
by age 4. /s/ takes longer with half pronouncing by age 4.5 and
most by school-age. Nevertheless, if your son's speech is
markedly different than his peers, I'd have him assessed. He'll
probably have fun during the process and it should ease your
worries. Also, if there is a problem, you won't feel guilty
about ignoring it. Start with your local school district. Put
your request in writing and follow-up with a phone call. I
think they have 60 days to do the assessment. You could also
check to see if the Scottish Rite in Oakland can help you. Cal
State Hayward's Dept. of Comm. Sciences and Disorders could also
assess him (510-885-3233). Please feel free to email me if you
have more questions.
Call your local Regional center and tell them you would like
your child tested for speech issues. Be persistent, it may
take a while. This will be free. After your child turns 4 the
school district is responsible for testing/treating your child
for free. You can also ask your pediatrician to a referral for
speech/language testing. Where you go will probably be
determined by your insurance plan. Both Alta Bates and
Children's have speech testing. The first thing your
pediatrician should do is order a hearing test. If you're
worried you should go with your gut and get reassurance but I
have to say that what you've described does not sound at all
unusual or worrisome to me (a special education parent whose
child has serious language/learning/attention problems). I
think it is way too soon to tell about dyslexia and that you
need to look at the whole picture of your son's langauge
development. Does he understand what is going on around him?
Does he understand what he is supposed to do in different
situations? Does he communicate with you? With other
children? Experts say the best way to help any child develop
is to get down on the floor with them and do one on one pretend
please try not to worry
It sounds like your son has a problem with what is called
phonology. I know that the Oakland Unified School District
offers classes for preschool children with phonological speech
issues, and I would imagine that other school districts would
as well. The first thing you should do is to contact the
diagnostic center for your local school district to request a
speech/language assessment (no cost to you), and see what
services they have to offer (also no cost to you).
I don't know if this will be of any help at all to you, but I'll
post it anyway. My friend has a little girl with (It sounds like
from your discription anyway) the same issues your son does. She
has been doing speech therapy, I think it is a group class, since
she was 3, and now she is 4 and a half. She is making great
progress. The state pays for it through the school district, so
there is no finanical problem for you. I'm not sure if you need
a doctors referrel or not. They also tested her hearing through
the same program. I have heard about it before through this
site, so you might want to check the archives. The good news is
that I can almost always understand my friend's child now, and I
think that makes everyone feel great. ( I was also going to look
into this, as my son's speech was difficult to understand, but
suddenly it all came together right around his 3rd birthday)
Good Luck. Your son is lucky to have a proacitve Mom.
My lovely 3 1/2 year old son is a wonderful boy in all ways.
Lately I've been getting really worried about his speech. Lately
I've noticed that the clarity of his speech is sounding less and
less clear than that of his peers. He's very bright, seems ahead
in gross and fine motor development, very active, artistic,
communicative, social, friendly and an 'easy', happy child.
Everyone keeps saying it is too soon to tell, but I want to
catch anything now before he starts feeling self esteem issues
when people don't understand him. I'm wondering how other
parents have handled these issues and how they have prepared
their child for what is ahead without scaring them or leaving
them in the dark.
He has good vocabulary, sentences seem fine most of the time but
for example he transposes words/letters. (Like he'll say: ''I
don't want you to go TA all'' instead of ''...I don't want you to
go AT all.'' He sometimes repeats himself till he gets a verbal
response to make sure he's been heard or understood. When he is
very tired sometimes he stutters slightly - finding it hard to
get the words out. His articulation of words is at times hard to
understand (it is cute - still like baby talk), though his
vocabulary is broad. Like he can't pronounce the letters: f or s
at the beginning of a word. Snake is ''nake'', frog is ''wog''
or ''pog'', dog is ''gog'', socks are ''kocks'', cornflakes
is ''compakes'', Jeremy is ''Je-emy'', and so on...I'm now almost
sure he has something going on - like maybe dyslexia. He is such
a charming and adorable child and so communicative that he can
still get people engaged with him with ease. I want him to
continue with that ease and am worried I may not catch whatever
it is in time to assist him fully.
If you or someone you know has experience with anything like
this, would you please give me some information? Where do I get
him tested? What is available for assessing preschoolers and
where do I start?
At first I thought he just needed regular exposure to other
kids, as he was home with me till four months ago. Now he is in
preschool part-time the overall difference is not hugely
significant. He's been exposed to a lot of activities and
experiences as I took him to lots of places so is quite
knowledgeable, observant and creative.
I'm a single mom and with meager resources. If anyone knows
ANYTHING about learning disorders, please can you write
something - assessment centers? is it covered by healthcare?
pediatricians who can do testing? other resources? preschools
and schools for children with language learning issues, any
information at all.
I am just beginning this journey and desperate to learn all I
can to support him to realize his best potential. I've
researched online and also in the archives but the information
is not recent, and most is for older children.
thank you in advance for any advice.
desperately worried mom
I'm so sorry that your son's speech is worrying you. My son also had
trouble with articulation at age 3, and I spoke to my pediatrician about it.
He referred us to the wonderful Speech Therapists at Alta Bates Herrick,
who did very thorough speech and language testing. As it turned out, his
articulation was at about 18th percentile for his age; they said he would
have needed to have articulation at less than 15th percentile to qualify
for speech therapy (at least the free therapy paid for by public schools;
this sort of free speech therapy is available to children as young as 3
through your local school system, I think). But because his language
and cognitive abilities were so much higher than his articulation, he did
qualify for speech therapy, paid for by our HealthNet HMO. I was so
glad, since he had such great ideas he wanted to communicate, but
even his preschool teacher didn't always understand him. He qualified
for speech therapy at Alta Bates Herrick once a week for about 6
months. In that time his articulation of 'w', 's' and 'l' sounds improved
dramatically, and his 'r' sounds are much better.
I would encourage you to talk to your pediatrician and have your son
tested now, and not wait. The sooner you can do it, the better, as
children at 3 don't mind repeating things over and over as much as
children at 6, when speech problems are normally picked up.
I'm sorry that you are so desparately worried that your son who
sounds wonderful in most respects may have a learning
disability. As a parent of a child with severe learning
disabilities I was offended by your tone of horror at the idea
that your son may have learning differences. If your son really
is dyslexic it is not going to be the end of the world or even
something you would have to prepare him for at the age of 3.5.
Although language based, dyslexia specifically refers to
problems with reading and since your son is only 3 and has not
yet started reading you have plenty of time to address any
problems he may have. I think the best way for you to help your
son maintain his current ease with the world is for you to try
to relax a little about his pronunciation. You can't prepare
him or any child for what is ahead because no one can tell how
any child will fulfill their academic potential. Do you really
want to start telling him he might have to learn differently
from other kids before he is even in school? Go to
schwablearning.org for information.
I am a speech-language pathologist working with pre-schoolers.
It sounds by your description that some of the things that your
son is doing may be developmentally appropriate. To have a
speech-language evaluation, the best place to start is with your
school district. Each district has a preschool program where
they do evaluations and therapy, if indicated. Unfortunatly, it
usually takes a long time to get an appointment. The department
that you contact is usually called Special Services. I would be
more than happy to answer any more of your questions- you can
email me directly. Good luck.
Your school district should provide free testing and evaluation
for all 3 year olds and above. Once a child is in Kindergarten
they need to be in the public school system otherwise you will
need to go and have your child tested privately (very expensive).
I'm not sure what district you are in but we are in the Contra
Costa School District where this testing is readily available.
Depending on what your child is eligible for, therapy is
available weekly, or several times per week (my friends son went
4x per week for 20 min sessions). My child attended once per week
for a 60 min speech therapy class. All this paid for by your tax
We went through all this when my daughter was 3 years old. She
stayed in the program for over 2 years.
All preschools should have this information posted on the
bulletin board. The school district sends out flyers to all
preschools. You do not need a referral.
As I stated previously, this service is paid by your tax dollars.
If you have any misgivings about your childs speech development
(and it's sounds like you do), you have everything to gain and
nothing to lose by having them tested.
My advice is to call your district office now and have your child
tested, esp. if you intend to have he/she go to a private
elementary school. They won't be eligible then.
As in all these situations you need to be your child's strong
My now 16 year old son could barely talk at that age, but many of the words he did
say were exactly the pronouncement you say your son has. He found his way on his
own and his speech was fine by kindergarten. Speech delays are not uncommon in
boys. However, in retrospect, I might have had him tested, he has struggled some
with school although there have been other, non learning disability factors involved.
If you're worried, I believe your local school district is legally obligated to
you with educational testing if you ask for it, even if your child is preschool age.
think they also must provide you with speech therapy if necessary. You may have to
wait awhile, but they are generally very good, they've seen a million kids & know
their stuff, and it's free! Call the district and find your way around. I'm sure
will post having been through this process. Good luck.
Call your local school district. They are obligated to assess
him and provide services, if they determine there is a need. If
you live in Oakland I am happy to get you phone #'s and email
addresses of the people to get you started, but unfortunately
don't have contact info for other districts. Good luck.
We want to pay privately for extra speech therapy to supplement
what my son receives in school. He is going on four and is
diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech. (We have Kaiser
health insurance and it isn't looking like they will pay for it).
We just scheduled him to see Patricia Dodd with Faltz Associates
on Solano Ave. Is anyone familiar with her, and would you
recommend her for a child of his age and/or diagnosis? Or does
anyone recommend any other private speech therapist? Any relevant
information would be much appreciated!
Angela Korpela or Michelle Gibson at Herrick Pediatric Rehab.
are quite experienced with apraxia - 510-204-4599, though you
would be paying out-of-pocket. Also if you don't already know
about the website www.apraxia-kids.org, it has some helpful
resources. Good luck!
parent of apraxic toddler
My son saw both Sarah Thompson and Martha Wagele at Faltz
Associates from age 5 till about 7. (From 4-5 he worked with
Kris Baines at Children's, but he hit the wall with her so we
needed to change.) He worked better with both of them than he
did with Patricia, who did his assessment.
Martha left Faltz and was in private practice last I knew. The
contact number I have for her is 510 525 6649.
I'd like to share our experience with Patricia with just a few
disclaimers at the end. We actually used Patricia Dodd at Faltz
for a few months this past spring. Our daughter was 3.5 at the
time and had/has severe speech and language delays. We actually
stopped the speech therapy sessions for a few different reasons.
Although Patricia is an extremely sweet person (my daughter
liked her a lot) as a parent I didn't find her to be very
personable at all. Extremely formal, not really into chatting
about or learning about how our daughter behaved outside the
office walls. To me this is good information for the therapist.
It didn't seem like she felt a strong need to collaborate so I
didn't feel like it was a joint effort. Also, to me she seemed
very ''by the book''...very straight forward, not too much
innovation or creativity. And given all this, very expensive (I
know all private practices will be).
With that said, we have never had a formal diagnosis for our
daughter so we aren't quite sure ourselves if the way, for
instance, to tackle the speech delay is speech therapy. My point
is, I may not have been completely convinced it was the right
route in the first place, so opinions could be tainted. I guess
I would like to pass on the information but give ALL the
information so that I'm being fair about it as well.
My son, who is now 6 yrs old, has been seeing Patricia Dodd for
about 2 years. My Son's diagnosis is PDD/language delay. He
also receives speach from his school. We continue with the
private speach therapy because we feel that she challenges him
more than the school therapist does. She has a good
relationship with him and is able to keep him focused. If you
have any other questions please feel free to contact me at my e-
I have soon to be 4 year old twin girls. I am somewhat
concerned about their speech and development. They were born 6
weeks premature, and were in the NICU for a couple weeks
because of difficulty feeding, but were basically okay. They
are doing well in preschool, but are behind almost all the
other kids as far as speech and behavior. One twin, for
example, will not answer ''yes'' to a question. If I say, do
you want some ice cream?'', she'll say ''Want some ice cream!''
If I say ''Say 'Yes. I want some ice cream.' '', she'll respond
with ''Say yes! I want some ice cream!'' The other twin is just
beginning to use ''Yes'' appropriately, but she did the same
thing for a long time. If they have any distraction at all,
they seem unable to focus on what I'm saying to them. They both
have low frustration levels, and have temper tantrums and
crying jags when they don't get their way, or are tired. They
have a hard time sitting still, and we are just now to the
point where we can go out to a restaurant and expect them to
sit for 30 minutes in a chair. All the other kids their age are
so much more articulate. We have had behavioralist specialists
see them, and all they say is that they are behind, but they
don't know why. They have said that they are not autistic, or
on the auitistic spectrum. One specialist recommended a special
ed classroom, but I did not like the classroom or the teacher's
methods. We are working on some speech therapy at home with
recommendations given by a speech therapist. I am just
wondering if anyone with twins has had a similar experience, or
should I be more worried? Signed: twin mom
Signed: twin mom
I was really taken by your posting and suggest you talk with my
local HANDLE practitioner, Sindy Wilkinson, who specializes in
children with neurological development remediation through short-
term, non-drug, movement exercises. I have been seeing her
myself this year after my daughter had such fantastic results.
Sounds like the delays you are describing seem to be based on
neurological systems that need nurturing and
practice to do their jobs efficiently. In this context, with
what you relayed, your girls' difficulties actually make
sense . From what I know, ''Echolalia'' - or the repeating of
words - is part of learning speech, and that one of the twins
has demonstrated that by her moving on to more appropriate ''yes''
responses after mastering the repeating behavior. I encourage
you to talk with Sindy. She has a really accessible nature, is a
parent of two girls herself, both of whom prospered from HANDLE
and that is why she became a student of and now a certified full
practioner of HANDLE. Sindy can describe how this all makes
sense from the HANDLE perspective. My daughter and I have
learned that there are simple and fun ways to do little
games/play exercises, which will assist even 4 year olds'
neurological systems to mature and ''catch them up.'' My 14 year
old progressed much, much faster than I did, with my being 53!
Sindy Wilkinson, MA
HANDLE Practioner and Licensed Marriage and FAmily Therapist
(and she knows about parenting!)
Wishing you well. Having a context of understanding helps so
A fellow loving MOM
My son, who is 2.9 months old was diagnosed with a developmental
language disorder(mixed receptive and expressive).He is at a pre
school right now, but the teacher has no experience with kids
with language disorders, so I am looking for a new school for
him. Does anyone know of a good school that has experience with
this disorder? I would also like to talk with someone that knows
about this disorder and have been trough what I am going right
now. He is being seen by a speech therapist once a week,trough
Regional Center, and is making progress, but I need more
resources. I called Scottish Rite Temple and the waiting list is
a year long. I am pretty sure that he is going to be eligible
for OUSD in September, but he is turning 3 in May and I need to
get him in a different pre school ASAP. Can someone help??
Thanks a lot.
The Lake School near Lake Merritt
Do you need just a few hours of preschool, or do you need full days?
For just a few hours:
--Small Voices is an early-intervention program at the Alta Bates Herrick
campus in Berkeley. Usually kids go there for free because they are
Regional Center of the East Bay clients (call 383-1200 and ask for an
intake coordinator to get your boy evaluated).
--Similarly, CEID (in Berkeley; see www.ceid.org) has a preschool
program that accepts kids with language delays, 527-5244.
--Finally, if your son turns 3 in May, you might think about having an IEP
with the Oakland diagnotic team (870-1760) in the spring--perhaps
they'd let your son go to one of the Tilden preschool classes for a month
before school lets out in June.
BUT for full days:
In my experience, private preschools tend not to go out of their way to
deal with speech-delayed children. I'm sure there are exceptions; for
example, I've heard positive stories about Duck's Nest, Chatham School,
some of the Jewish synagogue preschools, and the Berkeley JCC. You
might try the Merritt College lab preschool or the Mills College lab
preschool, too, since they have a more educational focus. Good luck.
There was a preschool program called ''First Step'' at Broadway and
Fairmount in Oakland that took kids with various kinds of special needs.
It was for babies/kids 6 weeks old to kindergarten, and 4 hours per day
were somehow subsidized. I never checked it out, but the contact info I
have is Donna Wolf at 238-0880.
Hi - I am wondering if anyone has a speech therapist they can
recommend to me? My son will be 3 in Oct. He is talking great.
I just think he could be talking clearer and could benefit from
a therapist. I don't think insurance would cover it. I also
don't think he would qualify for therapy under any program. He
really isn't delayed, just fuzzy. Any suggestions?
If you live in Oakland you can call the school district and
ask to have your son evaluated, even though he's not elementary
age yet (we had our 3-year-old evaluated last year). If the
evaluator agrees that there's cause for concern, you can start
free speech therapy through the school district, which is mandated
to provide this service to preschool- and school-age
children who need it. The quality of the therapy obviously depends
on the therapist. We've been reasonably happy with
our daughter's speech therapist, Linda Wyman, who works out of
Redwood Heights and a few other area schools. Good
Our son has had speech/language therapy since he was less than
three years old. There are some very good therapists in the area.
Mary Gage-Hermann used to or still does work through Childrens'
Hospital in Oakland. She's terrific with little kids. Debbie
McCloskey is wonderful, as well. I would recommend both without
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