Child Speech


What about Child Speech?



Committee Members

What about Child Speech?

Children begin vocalising from birth. Throughout childhood, learning to speak involves mastery of the production of consonants, vowels, syllables, words and prosody(intonation and stress) and tones (if appropriate). While most children achieve intelligible speech by 5 years, some do not and benefit from seeing a speech-language pathologist.

Recent terminology for children who have difficulty producing speech include:
· speech sound disorder (SSD)
· phonological impairment/disorder/delay
· articulation impairment/disorder/delay
· motor speech disorder
· childhood apraxia of speech (CAS)
· dysarthria

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The Child Speech Committee has contributed a book chapter to the IALP book publication Addressing Communication Disorders
 in Unserved and Underserved Populations, authored by members of the Association, celebrating 100 years of the IALP by presenting ideas to assist all those who work with children and adults who have difficulty in communicating or swallowing in order to improve services for unserved and underserved communities.

It offers strategies to address disorders and conditions that affect many areas of everyday life and which are exacerbated by lack of adequate health, education and social services.

The book chapter is free for download here:

Speech Sound Disorders in Underserved and Unserved Populations by Grech et al

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my child have a speech sound disorder?

What can I do to help my child’s speech development?

Parents are the most important influences in children’s environments for promoting good speech development. Children learn speech by listening and by having good conversations. Parents are in the best position to talk with their children about topics that interest them. Adults can talk abou t what chi ldren are seeing and doing when they are are jointly engaged in the same activity. Everyday routine activities are perfect because childr en will hear the same words many times, and repeated in more complex sentences as time goes by. Bathing, making breakfa st, getting ready for s chool, playing: all these daily activities are opportunities for rich conversations. Sharing picture books is an especially valuable activity for talking together: besides reading the story, talk about the pictures, respond to your c hil d’s questions and comments, ask your child questions, and connect the story to your child’s own experiences. If you are concerned about your chil d’s pronunciation of a specific sound – perhaps your child says “wam” instead of “lamb”, you could share books or rhymes about lambs. However, it is best to use the book as an opport unity to model the difficult sound; do not try to teach your child correct pronunciation unless a speech therapist has advised you to practice saying the sound with your child. Therefo re , you might have conversationslike this: Parent: Look at all the animals in the field! How many lambs? Child: One. Parent: That’s right, one lamb. And on this page, how many lambs? Child: Two wambs. Parent: Yes, I see two lambs, one lamb, two lambs. A wh ite lamb and a black lamb. Remember we saw a black lamb at the petting zoo? In this example the child hears the word “lamb” said correctly many times. He is engaged in the conversation but is not pressured to speak correctly or embarrassed by errors. Overt ime he will notice the difference between his own incorrect production and adult correct productions. This listening experience may help him learn to correct his pronunciation. If your child is older and is continuing to misarticulate certain speech sounds , you might ask your child to engage in certain prereading activities w hile listening to sounds. For example, your child might say the “s” sound in a way that is distorted or slushy. Even with the older child, the opportunity to hear many good examples of the difficult sound will be valuable. You might cut out pictures together of words that start with different sounds such as “f” ( feather, fish, forest ), “th” ( think, thorn, theatre ), and “s” ( saw, sand, soap ). Ask your child to paste the pictures on to dif ferent pieces of paper marked with the appropriate letters. Alternatively, you migh t find pictures of words that start with “s” ( saw, sand, soap ) or end with “s” ( bus, mouse, house ); cut these out and paste them onto the right and left pages of a notebook. The idea is to give your child opportunities to listen carefully for the sound and decide which sound is which or where the sound is. Once again, do not practice speech production without the help of a speech - language pathologist. If your child does not s eem to be improving, a speech - language pathologist can help you and your child with more specialized procedures.

At what age should a child be able to use all their speech sounds?

The age at which children should be using all the adult consonants, vowels (and tones) can be influenced by the language/s they are exposed to. H owever, overall most consonants, vowels and tones are learned by 5 years of age (McLeod & Crowe, 2018). The rat e and route of speech sound development for monolingual children may be different from that of multilingual children. In general consonants that are produced earlier are nasals (e.g., m, n, ng) and stops (e.g., b, p, t, d, k, g). Consonants that typically are produced later are fricatives (e.g., s, sh, th), affricates (e.g., ch, ts) and liquids (e.g., r).

My child is growing up in a multilingual environment. Is it better for his speech if we only use one language when we talk with him?

Children who are ex posed to bilingualism early on, are at an advantage, both in terms of speech and language skills and cognition. When children are exposed to more than one language from birth they c an become proficient in these languages, as long as they receive consistent and abundant exposure to both. Think about children’s language exposure can in terms of person, place and time.

How will speech problems affect a child when they start school?

Children who start school with unresolved speech difficulties may have challen ges in the school system. They may find it hard to communicate the ir needs to teachers and peers, may struggle with social aspects (e.g., making friends), and may have difficulty learning to read and write. Spoken l anguage and literacy are linked to each o ther: spoken language is the foundation of the skills needed for reading and spelling. Speech sound disorders are often the result of a speech system that is immature or not developing in the usual way. This speech sound system is also the basis for a chil d’s reading and spelling, as they must make links between sounds that are heard or produced a nd the symbols on the page. Phonological awareness – the ability to reflect on, identify and manipulate the sounds of language/s – is a good example of a skill th at is closely linked to both speech and literacy. For example, identifying that there are three sounds in the word “d og” (d – o – g) AND “sheep” (sh – ee – p) requires phonological awareness; children with speech sound disorders may have difficulty perfor ming such tasks. The nature and extent of a child’s speech difficulties do not always predict the type of experience they have at school. What is clear is that children with speech sound disorders benefit from early interv ention in the preschool years, and if a child starts formal schooling with unresolved speech difficulties it is important that they receive support to address their communication challenges and any related literacy, academic and social issues. McLeod, S., & Crowe, K. (2018). Children’s con sonant acquisition in 27 languages: A cross - linguistic review. American Journal of Speech - Language Pathology, 27 (4), 1546 – 1571. - 17 - 0100

Good practice guidelines for the transcription of children’s speech samples in clinical practice and research

Good practice guidelines for the analysis guidelines

These guidelines were developed by the UK Child Speech Disorder Research Network to accompany the transcription guidelines and provide guidance regarding the analysis of children’s speech samples for intervention.
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Position paper on multilingual children’s speech

This position paper was developed by the International Expert Panel on Multilingual Children’s Speech to provide direction and practical strategies for speech-language pathologists and related professionals working with children who are multilingual and/or multicultural, and to inform policy to promote speech and language competence for all children in the languages of their communities.
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Review paper on children’s speech development in 27 languages

This open access paper was reviews acquisition of consonants in 27 languages and demonstrates that typically developing children can produce most (or all) consonants in their language by 5 years of age.
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Tutorial paper on assessing multilingual children’s speech

This open access paper was developed by the International Expert Panel on Multilingual Children’s Speech to support the assessment of children who do not speak the same language as the speech-language pathologist.
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Intelligibility in Context Scale (ICS)

The ICS has been developed to provide speech-language pathologists with information about children's intelligibility(e.g., children with speech sound disorders, childhood apraxia of speech). It has been translated into over 70 languages and validated in a range ofcountries (e.g.,Australia, Fiji, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany, Jamaica, Korea, Slovenia, Vietnam). More information and details of this free tool can be downloaded from
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Multilingual Children’s Speech website

The purpose of this website is to present a compilation of resources in over 70 languages for speech-language pathologists who are working with multilingual children with speech sound disorders. It includes a list of speech acquisition studies, speech assessments, and information about languages. More information can be download from
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Crosslinguistic Project Assessment Tools

Speech assessment and analysis tools are freely available in a range of languages created as part of the CrosslinguisticProject on Phonological Development. More information can be downloaded from
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Webfon: Phonetic transcription self-study programme

Webfon is an online resource which supports the development and maintenance of phonetic transcription skills by providing hierarchically structured listening and transcription exercises combined with immediate feedback on performance. The exercises, ranging from Fields 1 to 3, progress from phoneme classification and auditory discrimination tasks to the transcription of simulated clinical data and, finally, live recorded clinical speech samples. Webfonis free to access from:
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Seeing speech

Seeing speech demonstrates the production of the world’s consonants and vowels imaged with ultrasound, MRI , orin animated form. More information can be downloaded from
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International Phonetic Alphabet chart

The IPA chart and all its subparts are copyright 2015/2005 by the International Phonetic Association and is available here:
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The Speech Accent Archive

Provides IPA charts for 100+ languages
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Transcription of Children’s Speech: IALP Child Speech Committee Special issue 2020

This special issue is available at: Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica 2020, Vol. 72, No. 2 – Karger Publishers and includes the following papers: 


The international IALP Child Speech Committee Panel Series 2021-2022:


Book chapters in IALP Addressing communication disorders in unserved and underserved populations

  • Grech, H., Wren, Y., Pascoe, M., & McLeod, S. & Hopf, S. (2022). Speech sound disorders in underserved or unserved populations. In S. Levey & P. Enderby & (Eds.). Addressing communication disorders in unserved and underserved populations. J&R Press.
  • Phạm, B., McLeod, S. & Verdon, S., Margetson, K. & Tran, V. H. (2022). Supporting the communication of underserved children in Vietnam. In S. Levey & P. Enderby & (Eds.). Addressing communication disorders in unserved and underserved populations. J&R Press.

Learn about our IALP Child Speech Committee here.




Space to provide documents / pictures

Committee Members and Consultants

Term of office 2022-2025

Helen Grech (Malta)


Susan Rvachew (Canada)


Ben Thi Ph ạ m (Vietnam)


Annette Fox-Boyer (Germany)


Thora Másdóttir (Þóra Másdóttir) (Iceland)


Carol Kit Sum To (Hong Kong,SAR China)


Yvonne Wren (UK)


Krisztina Zajdó (Hungary)


Joanne Cleland


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