Articulation is the way we produce the sounds of speech. Most children can say most sounds correctly by the time they start school. A child may benefit from an articulation assessment if they are more difficult to understand than their peers. This might be because they substitute sounds or leave sounds out when they are talking. The preschool years are a good time to start articulation therapy because it is often easier to access services and parents and children may have more time available to focus on developing speech skills before the child starts school. We know that children will be more ready to develop reading and writing skills when they can produce speech sounds correctly.
The Speech Pathologist makes an assessment of the child’s errors and provides motivating activities to teach the child how to say the sounds in isolation and in words. The parent has an opportunity to participate and learn how to help between therapy sessions.
The timing of therapy is a decision made by parents in consultation with their Speech Pathologist and depends on factors like the severity of the problem, the child’s ability to participate in motivating activities and the parents’ preparedness to follow up with regular practice between sessions. We need to consider that it may take a while to improve a child’s articulation and we need to allow enough time for therapy before they start school; but we also know that the child will learn more quickly as they get older and we don’t want to start them in therapy when they are too young to get a benefit from treatment.