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It is common that when children begin to speak they have a "rag tongue", they do not pronounce the words well, only their parents understand them, (and sometimes not even that), but little by little, this is disappearing and their speech is becoming more and more understandable.
There are sounds (phonemes) that are more complicated than others, and take longer to acquire or pronounce correctly, such as R, RR, or S. And certain grammatical structures are acquired later than others. But, What about children 5 years and older who still do not pronounce well?
The problems or difficulties in the articulation and organization of speech are normal and evolutionary up to a certain age, and although each child is different and each one has its own rhythm, If after 4-5 years these problems persist, we must go to a specialist in Speech Therapy to assess, evaluate and treat language problems in the child.
For there to be an adequate phonological development in the child, we must take into account that the child has an adequate physical development of the articulatory mechanisms for the production of speech sounds and a development of the auditory perception of sound differences. That is, hearing problems, or problems in the articulatory organs of speech, (tongue, palate, ...) can lead to difficulties or problems in the pronunciation of speech sounds.
Problems in the pronunciation of the sounds of the language, is what is known as dyslalia and we can talk about evolutionary, functional or audiogenic dyslalia:
- Until the age of 4, it is normal for children to not pronounce certain sounds well, it is what is known as evolutionary dyslalia which are those dyslalias, which occur in children during the language development phase, due to an inadequate development of their phonoarticulator device but which disappear as the child acquires the ability to correctly repeat the words he hears by imitation.
- Functional dyslalia It is one in which the child does not use the articulatory organs correctly when he has to pronounce a phoneme (he does not place the tongue in the correct position, for example). You can omit, substitute, distort or insert the phoneme.
- Audiogenic dyslalia in which the child does not articulate correctly due to hearing loss (in its different degrees).
- Lisp: / s / for / z /: “hunt” for “home”.
- Seseo: / z / for / s /: “sapato” for “shoe”.
- Substitution of / f / for / p / or / z /.
- Substitution of / k / for / t /.
- Rotacism: “gomper” for “breaking”.
- Nasalization: / d / by / n /, “animina” by “guess”.
- Voicing of voiceless consonants / g / for / k /, “gauze” for “house”.
- Anticipation problems, saying “títate” for “take off”.
- Duplication, “difficult” for “difficult”.
- Substitution or assimilation of one phoneme by another. For example, / t / for / s /.
- Alteration of the order of phonemes, for example “tonicias” for “news”.
- Alteration of the syllabic order, such as pronouncing "telephone".
Therefore, if a 4-year-old child does not pronounce R correctly, it would not be a problem, but if at 5 years of age he continues to pronounce wrong, then we should consult a specialist, in this case, the speech therapist is the one who can assess if there is a problem or it is something evolutionary and who is going to carry out the appropriate intervention for the recovery of each sound of the tongue and can guide us towards the best intervention for our little one.
We can say that from the age of 5, if the child continues to speak with a rag tongue and it is difficult for us to understand what he says or mispronounces some sounds of the tongue, he may present a dyslalia and we must intervene for its treatment.
There are organic problems that we must rule out, such as problems with the palate or frenulum, which are organic problems that are usually detected early and will require speech therapy. Children with frequent otitis or hearing loss can also have speech problems by not discriminating adequately the sounds of the tongue, making it a "risk factor" in pronunciation problems.
It is important to intervene as soon as possible, since language problems can lead to problems in learning to read and write, so the sooner we work on these problems, the better the prognosis and the less impact on later learning they will have.
It is important that parents serve as a model in the language of our children, and although we are not going to be speech therapists, there are certain things that we must take into account:
- Do not promote the child's "infantilized" language, (If the 4-year-old child says "tetota" instead of a ball, we should not use that word, but the correct one, even though its language seems funny)
- Do not pressure the child or require proper pronunciation. Give him the correct model but without demanding that he pronounce it, (if the petota tells us, say "ahh ... I want the ball", but without demanding that he repeat it properly).
- Avoid telling the child "this is not said", or "it's wrong", or "since I don't understand you, I don't pay attention to you" as we said before, I give you the correct model but without "nagging".
- Although it may not seem important to us, the use of pacifiers or bottles beyond the age of two of age can be a problem when pronouncing the little ones, since they can hinder a correct development of the articulatory organs.
- Likewise, food is important, since chewing is part of the exercise of the muscles involved in speech. Continuing with elements that do not help to enhance them (baby food, purees, give them everything soft) can lead to later repercussions in the performance of the movements necessary to make the sounds.
You can read more articles similar to 5-year-olds who still do not pronounce well, in the Language category - On-site speech therapy.