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  • Writer's pictureAmy Williams

My child can say the sound but doesn't use it in their words....

Does this sound like something your child is doing?

If you are concerned about the clarity of your child's speech and you've noticed certain sounds that they miss or use a different sound for, you may have tried practising saying that certain sound.

And they can make the sound! Hooray!

But they can't use it in their words..... However, much you try and get them to... and it's baffling?

This sounds like a potential phonological difficulty.

Phonology is a term used in linguistics. It represents the speech sound systems of language.

When a child can say a sound but does not use this within their speech correctly, they may have difficulty with the way speech sounds are organised and represented in their mind. They may not have awareness of the correct distinctive sound contrasts used in language and therefore use different sounds in place of the correct sound or don't use it at all.

Unfortunately, however many times you practise saying the sound with your child, their speech may not improve as they need to reorganise their inner speech sound (phonological) system to be able to learn how to use that speech sound correctly.

For example, your child may say [tea] for the word /key/. They can make the /k/ sound when you practise this with them but automatically return to saying /tea/ when you practising saying /k/ in the word /key/. They need to increase their awareness of the use of /k/ in words for this to change.

Some phonological errors are developmental and perfectly normal and these resolve as the child gets older. But if they are still having difficulty as they get older, this may be due to a phonological delay or disorder.

If this sounds like something you feel your child is experiencing, try to increase their awareness of how words are made up of sounds.

- Be aware of when certain sounds should be developed by. You can find this information here.

- Start to clap out syllables or "beats" in words.

- Read rhyming books together such as "Each Peach, Pear, Plum" or "Room on the Broom"

- Get them to sort out items by the sound (not letter) that they begin with. For example, make a pile of things that begin with the sound /t/ and the sound /k/ or "c".

- If they say words incorrectly, model back the correct production. "Yes, that's a key"

If their use of sounds do not improve, it may be something that requires a Speech and Language Therapist to help with.

A Speech and Language Therapist can use specifically designed assessments to assess your child's internal speech system and also any articulatory difficulties they may have.

Some difficulties with phonology can be treated within as little as 4-6 sessions depending on the severity of difficulty your child is experiencing.

At Castlepoint Independent Speech and Language Therapy, in Rayleigh, we have a couple of Saturday Speech Clinic initial assessments slots left before 2022. Alternatively, ring or email the clinic on 07534043087 or, to get on our weekday waiting list for January 2022.

Amy x

Clinical Lead Speech and Language Therapist.

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