top of page

Speech Sound Development Explained

First of all, what is speech?

Did you know speech and language are different and are often confused? Firstly we will clear this up! Speech and language are different. A person can have differences/difficulties with speech or language or with both speech and language.

Speech sound development looks at both the how we learn individual speech sounds (articulation) and the way in which these sounds are organized into different patterns of sounds (phonology). The Neurotypical Stages of Speech Development from 3-7 years *90% of children acquire these sounds at the corresponding ages.

It is common for children to mispronounce words while they are learning. These are called phonological processes. Phonological processes are patterns of sound errors that all children use to simplify speech as they are learning to talk. There are many different patterns of simplifications or phonological processes. Here are some common things that you might hear your child say.

Speech Intelligibility

Your child’s speech should typically become easier to understand as they get older. Here’s a guide to follow:

If by 4 years, less than half of what your child says is understood by unfamiliar adults then you should link with a Speech and Language Therapist for an evaluation of your child’s speech sound development.


Bowen, C. (1998). Developmental phonological disorders. A practical guide for families and teachers. Melbourne: ACER Press.

Flipsen, P., Jr (2006). Measuring the speech intelligibility of conversational speech in children. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, (20) 4, 303-312.


bottom of page