How to support children who have unclear speech

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    How to support children who have unclear speech

    cartoon image of child


    Learning to speak clearly is a skill children master gradually therefore you may find some of your child's sounds are not produced correctly for some time, particularly throughout the preschool years.   For example, your child may name a spoon a /boon/ or name a key a /tea/. 

    Speech sounds develop in a sequence and just like other milestones such as sitting up, crawling and walking there are expected time frames for sounds to emerge.   By the age of 8 years most children have learnt how to say all the sounds correctly.

    Why is my child's speech unclear?  

    There are lots of different reasons for children's speech to be unclear, however sometimes there is no obvious cause.  Some causes are:   

    • Delayed expressive (spoken) language skills
    • Glue ear or other hearing difficulties
    • Poor attention and listening skills
    • Physical difficulties such as cleft lip and/or palate, cerebral palsy  
    • Poor oro-motor coordination skills
    • Learning disabilities


    What is the range of speech sound difficulties?

    Speech sound difficulties in children can range from children having difficulty with just a few sounds e.g. /s/ or /f/ to children whose speech is completely unintelligible, even to their family members.  Children may experience some or all of the speech difficulties listed below.


    • Difficulty with telling the difference between sounds
    • Difficulty with the articulation (making) of sounds
    • Difficulty with combining sounds in words
    • Difficulty saying longer words
    • Difficulty with the rhythm, flow or ‘tune' of speaking                

                                                                                      (Afasic website

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    how you can help your child

    at home.


    Below you will find some leaflets, which we hope you find useful. Each leaflet has a short explanation of the topic. Please do contact the Speech and Language Therapy team if you would like further information and we will be happy to help.







    Below you will find some useful website links where you will find more information and support.  Just click the pictures