My Child is Struggling with Reading - Could it be related to his Speech Difficulties?

Yes. When beginning to read, children first need to understand the sounds the letters make. In fact, many studies have shown that children who have difficulty saying speech sounds can later have difficulty reading. Multiple studies have concluded that as a group, preschoolers with speech sound disorders are at increased risk for later reading disability, or developmental dyslexia (Bird, Bishop, & Freeman, 1995; Larrivee & Catts, 1999; Lewis & Freebairn, 1992). Similarly, children with reading disability have higher rates of previous speech sound disorders (Pennington & Lefly, 2001; Scarborough, 1990).

How do I know the difference between typical speech errors and speech difficulty that my child needs help with? There are many factors that can make your child’s speech development unique. A few examples include: Some children simply develop speech sounds in an atypical pattern, some have lost teeth a little earlier than most, and some have mouth muscle coordination difficulties. The following guideline for speech sound development is a starting point for checking how your child is doing:

AGE 1 ½ -3 children typically develop the sounds P,M,H,W, B and N. The B sound can be as late as age 4.

AGE 2-4 children typically develop the sounds K, G and D, T and NG. The T and NG sounds can be as late as age 6.

Age 2 ½-4 children typically develop the sounds F and Y.

AGE 3-8 children typically develop the sounds R, L and S. This is a long range because these can be some of the most challenging sounds to say.

AGE 3 ½-7 children typically develop the sounds “sh”, “ch”and Z. Z can be as late as age 8.

AGE 4-8 children typically develop the sounds “j” as in “jump” and V.

AGE 4 ½-7 children typically develop “th” without the voice on , as in “think”.

AGE 5-8 children typically develop “th” with the voice on, as in “this”.

AGE 6-8 ½ children typically develop the sound ZH as in “treasure”.

The above chart is a general guideline. Many factors can play a part in delayed speech development as well as difficulty reading. If your child is not able to say sounds in his or her age range, then a consult with a Speech-Language Pathologist is recommended.

Marsha Boyer is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist located in Greenwood. She owns Speech Connections, a private practice where she treats children of all ages and difficulties.

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