Student Services
School Age Speech Pathologists

ARTICULATION---Articulation is how we say the sounds in our language. Articulation errors, like “wat for rat, witto for little, or fumb for thumb,” are a normal part of speech development. Most children will grow out of the problem and learn the sounds on their own, however, a few won’t. These children will need to be taught how to say them correctly. There are guidelines to follow for placing children in speech therapy for articulation---The NEBRASKA/IOWA ARTICULATION NORMS. The sounds most likely to be problems are: S, Z, L, R, SH, CH, J, AND TH. Most children in kindergarten will not qualify for help with articulation unless they are very difficult to understand because of the “age guidelines. Articulation problems are easily fixed, but help is also needed at home. The “new sound” must become a habit in the child’s speech.

FLUENCY---Fluency is more commonly known as stuttering. The main thing to point out here is that most children go through a stage of dysfluent or stuttered speech. A cause may be nervous tension, resulting from uneven development in speech sound ability, grammar, or vocabulary. Also, poor eating and sleeping habits, stopping of thumb sucking, very high parental speech standards, and tiredness can especially result in frustration and stuttering. This is very common, so don’t be alarmed if your child stutters, especially up to the age of about five. However, there are exceptions to this. If you have concerns, contact a speech pathologist for more information. The best thing you can do is to NOT draw attention to dysfluent speech. Instead, wait patiently for the child to finish speaking, try not to finish sentences for him /her, maintain eye contact, and refrain from telling your child to “slow down,” “stop,” or “think about what you want to say before you say it.”

LANGUAGE---Language development is a large area. Language is the ability to understand what is said to you and how to put your thoughts and ideas into words so that you can communicate with others. The only way to learn language is to listen, talk, and read. Reading to your child is still one of the best things you can do for them, and you can begin this as early as six months of age. Children are often delayed in language development due to illness, medical conditions, environmental factors, or other reasons.

VOICE---Most children’s voices develop without any problems. Voice disorders are not real common. However, some children are more prone to problems. What to look for are children who do a lot of screaming and yelling (constant abuse such as yelling can cause vocal nodules to form); or children with chronically hoarse voices. Discourage screaming and yelling as much as possible and consult with your doctor if hoa


What does a school-age speech pathologist do?

-School-age speech pathologists assist in the identification and treatment of speech and language disorders for children ages 5-21. Speech pathologists may also be called speech therapists, speech clinicians, speech-language pathologists, or SLP’s.

What causes speech/language problems?

-All children have areas of strength and weakness. Some are better at running, kicking and climbing, while others excel at using language and speech. However, there are some conditions which may contribute to speech and language difficulties. They may or may not include the following: Chronic ear infections/hearing problems Premature birth/trauma during birth Developmental delay Illness Head injury Heredity (often in the case of stuttering) Cerebral palsy, Downs Syndrome, Autism or other conditions.

How does a school age child qualify for speech services?

-A child who is suspected of having a speech and language disorder is referred to the school’s speech pathologist. After receiving permission from the parents to evaluate, the speech pathologist administers a series of speech and language tests. Based on the results, the child may or may not qualify for special education services under the area of speech and language impairment. Guidelines have been established by the State of Nebraska ( which determine whether or not a child is eligible to receive services. 

If You Think Your Child Is Stuttering... This material was compiled by Dr. Barry Guitar, University of Vermont, and Dr. Edward G. Conture, Vanderbilt University. Is Your Child Stuttering? If your child has difficulty speaking and tends to hesitate on or repeat certain syllables, words, or phrases, he may have a stuttering problem, but he may simply be going through periods of normal disfluency that most children experience as they learn to speak. This pamphlet will help you understand the difference between stuttering and normal language development.

The normally disfluent child:

  1. The normally disfluent child occasionally repeats syllables or words once or twice, li-li-like this. Disfluencies may also include hesitancies and the use of fillers such as "uh", "er", "um".
  2. Disfluencies occur most often between ages one and one-half and five years, and they tend to come and go. They are usually signs that a child is learning to use language in new ways. If disfluencies disappear for several weeks, then return, the child may just be going through another stage of learning. They are usually signs that a child is learning to use language in new ways. If disfluencies disappear for several weeks, then return, the child may just be going through another stage of learning.

The child with milder stuttering:

  1. A child with milder stuttering repeats sounds more than twice, li-li-li-li-like this. Tension and struggle may be evident in the facial muscles, especially around the mouth.
  2. The pitch of the voice may rise with repetitions, and occasionally the child will experience a "block" -- no airflow or voice for several seconds.
  3. Disfluencies may come and go but are now present more often than absent.
  4. Try to model slow and relaxed speech when talking with your child, and encourage other family members to do the same. Don't speak so slowly that it sounds abnormal, but keep it unhurried, with many pauses. Television's Mr. Rogers is a good example of this style of speech.
  5. Slow and relaxed speech can be the most effective when combined with some time each day for the child to have one parent's undivided attention. A few minutes can be set aside at a regular time when you are doing nothing else but listening to your child talk about whatever is on his mind.
  6. When your child talks to you or asks you a question, try to pause a second or so before you answer. This will help make talking to your child less hurried, more relaxed.
  7. Try not to be upset or annoyed when stuttering increases. Your child is doing his best as he copes with learning many new skills all at the same time. Your patient, accepting attitude will help him immensely.
  8. Effortless repetitions or prolongations of sounds are the healthiest form of stuttering. Anything that helps your child stutter like this instead of stuttering tensely or avoiding words is helping.
  9. If your child is frustrated or upset at times when his stuttering is worse, reassure him. Some children respond well to hearing, "I know it's hard to talk at times...but lots of people get stuck on's okay." Other children are most reassured by a touch or a hug when they seem frustrated.

The child with more severe stuttering

  1. If your child stutters on more than 10% of his speech, stutters with considerable effort and tension, or avoids stuttering by changing words and using extra sounds to get started, he will profit from having therapy with a specialist in stuttering. Complete blocks of speech are more common than repetitions or prolongations. Disfluencies tend to be present in most speaking situations now.
  2. The Stuttering Foundation of America at 1-800-992-9392 and will provide you with the names of speech-language pathologists who specialize in stuttering, or you may contact a nearby university or hospital clinic for referral assistance. Speech pathologists should have a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
  3. The suggestions for parents of a child with mild stuttering are also appropriate when the child has a severe problem. Try to remember that slowing and relaxing your own speaking style is far more helpful than telling the child to slow down.
  4. Encourage your child to talk to you about his stuttering. Show patience and acceptance as you discuss it. Overcoming stuttering is often more a matter of losing fear of stuttering than a matter of trying harder.

Seven Ways to Help Your Child:

  1. Speak with your child in an unhurried way, pausing frequently. Wait a few seconds after your child finishes speaking before you begin to speak. Your own slow, relaxed speech will be far more effective than any criticism or advice such as "slow down" or "try it again slowly."
  2. Reduce the number of questions you ask your child. Children speak more freely if they are expressing their own ideas rather than answering an adult's questions. Instead of asking questions, simply comment on what your child has said, thereby letting him know you heard him.
  3. Use your facial expressions and other body language to convey to your child that you are listening to the content of her message and not to how she's talking.
  4. Set aside a few minutes at a regular time each day when you can give your undivided attention to your child. During this time, let the child choose what he would like to do. Let him direct you in activities and decide himself whether to talk or not. When you talk during this special time, use slow, calm, and relaxed speech, with plenty of pauses. This quiet, calm time can be a confidence-builder for younger children, letting them know that a parent enjoys their company. As the child gets older, it can be a time when the child feels comfortable talking about his feelings and experiences with a parent.
  5. Help all members of the family learn to take turns talking and listening. Children, especially those who stutter, find it much easier to talk when there are few interruptions and they have the listeners' attention.
  6. Observe the way you interact with your child. Try to increase those times that give your child the message that you are listening to her and she has plenty of time to talk. Try to decrease criticisms, rapid speech patterns, interruptions, and questions.
  7. Above all, convey that you accept your child as he is. The most powerful force will be your support of him, whether he stutters or not. The Stuttering Foundation has 2 excellent books and 2 videotapes for parents of young children who may be stuttering (Catalog #106) which are available from our online store (look under Best Sellers). You may also wish to visit our library pages to see if your local library has any of these materials. ARTICULATION NORMS Articulation of sounds is developmental. The following age norms were established as part of the Nebraska-Iowa Articulation Norms Project. The charts below show at what age males and females should be using correctly articulated consonant sounds. Vowel sounds are currently considered intact by age three.

FEMALES: AGE 3 - b, p, m, n, h, w, d, g, k, f AGE 4 - y, t, t, kw, voiced th AGE 5 - f, v, l, pl ,bl, kl, gl, fl AGE 6 - sh, ch, j, l, voiceless th AGE 7 - s, z, s blends, ing AGE 8 - r, pr, br, dr, gr, kr, dr, fr, er, AGE 9 - thr, str, spr, skr

MALES: AGE 3 - p, b, m, t, d, k, h, f, AGE 4 - g AGE 5 - f, v, y, tw, kw AGE 6 - l, l blends AGE 7 - ch, sh, j, voiced th, ing, s, z, s blends AGE 8 - voiceless th, r, r blend, er AGE 9 - thr, str, spr, skr Language

A child that has normal language development will.....

  • Use age appropriate vocabulary.
  • Use plurals, prononuns and verb tenses correctly.
  • Generate sentences that make sense.
  • Relate events and/or tell stories in sequential order.

At age five, your child:

  • Defines objects by their use ( You eat with a fork)
  • Knows his/her address
  • Understands spatial relations (on, under, in)
  • Uses 5-8 word sentences and different
  • Counts ten objects
  • Asks simple questions for information
  • Distinguishes left and right hand in himself but not in others

Ways to stimulate your childs expressive language:

  • Encourage your child to use language to express his feelings and ideas.
  • Avoid asking your child questions that require only a yes/no answer.
  • Encourage your child to draw pictures and tell about the picture.
  • Learn songs, nursery rhymes or verses for memory.
  • READ, READ, READ..... Read stories to your child and have the child retell the story to you. T

Hints For Speaking Clearly You can help your child speak clearer by:

  1. Being a good speech model for your child. Do not use baby talk.
  2. Always pronouncing words clearly, slowly, and correctly for your child to hear and immitate.
  3. Maintaining eye contact with your child when you are talking to them.
  4. Allowing your child to watch your face, lips, and tongue as you form sounds and words prolonging the speech sound the child has difficulty saying, for example, Where is your sssssock?
  5. Repeating new words and sounds over and over. Use them often when you talk to your child.
  6. Praising the child when sounds are made correctly!