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Speech - when does 3 yr old pronunciation improve?

(10 Posts)
kiteflying Thu 14-Jul-11 08:54:48

My DD will be 4 years old in August and still cannot pronounce "r" (she says "w") or "th" (she says "v"). As she has only just outgrown a stutter that was really awful for her, I have not been concerned with anything other than fluency until now, but she is due to start pre-school soon and my previous worries that she would be picked on for her stutter have changed to worries that she will be picked on for saying "wiv" and "weally".
Should I be considering getting some speech therapy or at least an assessment?

Notinmykitchen Thu 14-Jul-11 09:40:37

I believe it varies quite a lot between children, and it sounds like your DD is fine (I am absolutely no expert though). That said if it is worrying you why not get her assessed, it can't do any harm, and may well put you mind at rest. Did you get any help with the stutter?

bilblio Thu 14-Jul-11 10:14:07

My DD is 4 next week and has similar problems. The main one is that K is T. Her speech used to be much worse, but it is improving, she seems to go in fits and starts, no change for ages then suddenly seems much clearer. She does get frustrated at times when she's not being understood. We're well tuned into her though so rarely have problems now.

I haven't seen a speech therapist about my DD, because I'm actually a speech therapy assistant. I work with adults with learning disabilities though so have no experience of doing speech sound work. I do pick people's brains though and ask advice about my DD and the general consensus is "don't worry, it'll come," and it is doing.

I was the same... in fact the sounds I struggled with were the same ones as your DD.... I did have speech therapy, but only one session as they said it would come in time and it did within about 6 months. (I was just 4 when i saw the speech therapist.) Some children grasp speech sounds straight away, others take a bit longer. The sounds your daughter is struggling with are the most common ones to have delays on.

It might be worth speaking to your GP, especially as your daughter has had a stutter (although this is often because they've got so much to say and their brains are quicker than their mouths.) It can take a long time for a speech therapy assessment to come through so your daughter may be fine by the time the appointment comes through, or she may still be struggling.

Try not to worry too much. Repeat words back to your daughter correctly, but don't make a big issue of it or put any pressure on her.

ragged Thu 14-Jul-11 10:28:41

I think they have until 7yo to get the R sound, that's a very late one, often. V for th is also
Am not a SALT, but have had DC in SALT, have a lot of layperson's knowledge.
My 3yo still subs "d" for other sounds; ie stairs or cat become dares/dat. I wouldn't be the least bit worried if I were you, OP.

kiteflying Thu 14-Jul-11 10:30:16

Thanks so much to both of you for taking the time to reply! I knew that "th" was the last to come on, but did not know quite how late it was acceptable to be delayed.
We handled the stutter by just ignoring it - although we caught other people rather unhelpfully telling her to slow down, etc, and kindy class teachers that would shush her because she took to long to ask a question or tell them something (!) - and she did outgrow it but occasionally lapses even now when she is tired.
I would probably ignore this as well if it were not for the looming pressure of other children in pre-school possibly making fun of her, or teachers getting impatient as they did with her stutter. Hopefully there will be other children that mix up other speech patterns as you say.
She is so bright, it would be awful if something as stupid as this damned her confidence at the outset.
Like you, bilblio, I sense her frustration and my heart goes out to her. It is very reassuring that you had the same issues and outgrew them at about the same age. Thanks.

bilblio Thu 14-Jul-11 17:44:26

I really wouldn't worry about other children making fun of her. I don't remember anyone making fun of me, and DD has never seemed to have any problems either and her speech sounds extremely "babyish" compared with most of the other children in her class. Now she's with me I can also spot that "l" is "r" but "r" is "w", and "th" is "d" as well as "k" being "t". There's probably others too, they're just the ones I can hear her saying now when she's talking to herself.

When DD is getting frustrated I generally ask her other questions which makes her phrase things in a different way rather than trying and struggling to repeat the same words. This is what I do at work too. Rather than trying to teach people to speak (which with my client group is very unlikely) We offer people other ways of communicating, so either using simpler words, object, signs but mostly it's pictures. I've asked DD to show me what she means or where something is before when she's been getting frustrated at me not understanding her.

If your DD seems as able as other children her age in all other areas then that's again another sign not to worry. My DD is bright (often too bright) she's well beyond some of her peers in some areas so the rest will just catch up in time.

ragged Thu 14-Jul-11 22:54:06

I agree, getting teased at school is very unlikely; quite a few won't have very clear speech until y2 or so.

kiteflying Fri 15-Jul-11 03:46:10

Thank you!

oo, can I just jump in and ask a question? DS is 3.7 and his speech is mostly good, has improved a lot over the last 6m - but he still sometimes has trouble with his Ls. Says W instead in the middle of words, so we have "owives" instead of olives, "koawa" instead of koala, that kind of thing. Is this a common substitution? I expect it is, he's grown out of all the others, so I expect he'll grow out of this one too soon enough but just thought I'd ask. Thank you smile

bilblio Fri 15-Jul-11 10:51:07

Yes, l and r are really common ones. I remember being made to say red lorry yellow lorry or "wed wowwy, wewwow wowwy!"

My parents used to record me and me brother saying nursery rhymes, we still have them and listening back it's no wonder people struggled to understand me sometimes.
I've tried to record DD. DH is a musician so she loves singing into the microphone but she clams up as soon as it's turned on... even if we try to do it in secret, she just knows! It would be good to compare how her speech has changed every 6 months or so though.

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