Parents can help their child learn to produce the correct sounds of speech, articulation, from the beginning m, p, b, to the more difficult s, l, r.
All schools provide free services for developmentally delayed children from ages 2.9 to 5. These delays include language delays and articulation, or speech sounds. TUSD has a child find program to locate these students early. Arizona has a similar program for children from birth to 3 years old.
However, since all speech sounds are developmental, school therapists do not provide services for only articulation. It must be severe enough to affect learning. Later developing sounds are the l, r, and s. Because the natural development seems to be ages 6, and 7, school therapists will not begin retraining these sounds until later.
Parents may choose to start some fun and games learning at home.
m, p, b: The easiest to see and imitate are the m, p, b sounds. The only problem usually being the p. Games to learn the p: get a feather and show how to “puff” the feather and make it move. Baby is delighted to try the new game. A small balloon on Mom’s hand will also work.
To help develop muscular and air flow control, blowing bubbles is fun. Making faces also strengthens face and tongue muscles necessary for speech.
S : Easy to see, but s requires the control of quite a few muscles in the tongue. Put your teeth together, grin, and hiss like a snake (tea kettle, mad raccoon or badger). If Mom or Dad hears too much spluttering, Baby’s tongue is getting in the way. “Pull your tongue back. Don’t touch your teeth.”
S is a continuous sound, so Baby can hiss away. But practice with vowel sounds should follow. “See that! See this!” A picture book works: “See the bird!” “See the duck!” Baby will start pointing and saying ‘see’
Children like music and rhythm: Make up songs. See… sye, SO, say. See…sye SO say. See…sy, so say… suuuuue.
Items around the house to illicit a final s sound are: Ace in cards, ice, geese, (piece), most ( a good time to teach math and play with items of some – more – most), and moose.
If your child also has a problem with r and l, you do not want to be practicing words containing those sounds while working on the S sound. Select words that contain sounds Baby can make: mast, mice, moose, base, bison.
A problem with S, is often coupled with a problem enunciating Z. Learning is the same, except you, “Turn your motor on.” Kids have fun feeling your throat while you, ‘Turn your motor on.’
Baby will often decide that its time to turn the tables, and make Mom or Dad repeat sounds. That’s fine, you copy Baby for awhile.
If kids are speaking in sentences, but missing the s sound, correcting the word is acceptable. ‘Mommy, I thaw a bunny!”
Kids will often do it correctly after the parent. But if Junior or Juniorette decides not to try… don’t worry… learning is still taking place.
Parents who wish to obtain speech and language services privately can contact Tucson Medical Center, or follow a link to private providers in Tucson.