How many times do you find yourself reaching for a folder, googling on your computer, or sifting through a pile of papers to explain speech development norms to parents, teachers, and caregivers?
One of the most popular journal articles of recent times is the cross-linguistic review of children’s consonant acquisition by McLeod and Crowe (2018). Their study looked at the average age that children learn to pronounce their sounds correctly, and they included some easy-to-understand graphics to help explain this.
Here are some ways that you can use a speech development chart in your speech pathology practice.
Confidently explain speech development
I’m sure you have this conversation every time you assess for child. While most of the time we provide a written report, parent education WITHIN the session is equally important. Our parents and caregivers come to see us because they have concerns about the child’s speech.
Parents generally have a lot of questions about whether a child’s speech is “normal”, and sometimes they might not even be aware that there even is an average age that we expect children to say their speech sounds correctly. This chart literally sits behind me on the wall, so that all I need to do is swivel my chair around to reference it during an assessment.
I can’t tell you how many times I see parents looking at this chart and just taking the time to understand what sounds we expect at different ages.
Make your speech therapy room more educational
The first place I put up this poster was in our Health Centre waiting room. Not only did it draw kids to it because it was bright and engaging, but parents started commenting how helpful it was too.
You don’t know what you don’t know… and having educational materials are important.
I’m also very new to the whole idea of hanging up posters in the room because they CAN be a distraction. The first one that went up on my wall was this chart because I like listening to and talking about sounds. We might point to the sound that we are working on, or I can probe stimulability for missing sounds.
Include it as part of a speech screener
There are many different ways to screen a child’s speech, depending on the length of time you have, and how in-depth you want to screen their speech. I use a laminated copy of this chart as part of my speech screener, and it quickly gives a snapshot into a child’s speech sound development.
You might like to print a black and white version and color-code the chart based on sounds that the child says correctly and incorrectly.
Attach it to a report
Lately, I’ve been either attaching the chart to my assessment reports for further information about speech development. By highlighting the sounds that the child says incorrectly on the chart, a parent is presented with visual information about their child’s speech. Reports can be long and hard to interpret, so this chart can help to support your written report.
McLeod, S. & Crowe, K. (2018). Children’s consonant acquisition in 27 languages: A cross-linguistic review. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. doi:10.1044/2018_AJSLP-17-0100. Available from: https://ajslp.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?articleid=2701897
WHERE TO FIND THE CHARTS:
There are freely available charts that the authors of the study created. You can download four different versions here.
For the chart (pictured) you can purchase it as a DIGITAL download through my store. I took the file to a print shop and had it printed as an A1 poster size!