Talking and Pronunciation

Updated on June 16, 2008
A.P. asks from Sacramento, CA
8 answers

My daughter is 33 months old.

I kind of like her lisp and the way she prounounces things, and she has a pretty amazing vocabulary (some words are more complex than I realized she could use, but she seems pretty impressed with herself when I look shocked.)

I'm curious as to whether I need to worry. She says "square" as "sare", she says "triangle" as "changle", although some things are pronounced correctly, like "circle." She even uses "hmm." and "umm." and "huh?" correctly, which cracks me up.

She can say "la la la" but not "I like this", which comes out "I yike thisth". She can say "Funny Face" but fix it comes out as "ix it". Of course, Please is "Peas" and Thank you is "chankoo".

She sings on tune, but leaves out a LOT of words, which are replaced by "hunh hunh hunh" sung to the tune, until she gets to something she knows again, so LMNOP is left out and replaced with Hunh-hunh-hunh sung for each syllable until she gets to Q in the ABC song. Not sure if that's weird, I don't think it's too odd, but I just heard a 2 year old do the full song.

My nana had a lisp. I miss her terribly, and every little "s" reminds me of her because it's the same exact kind of lisp...

So, what do you think, do we need a speech therapist at some point? And if not yet, when do I start to get concerned or can I just let her keep on lisping in her lilting kind of way?

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So What Happened?

I thought about the hearing issue, but she can hear the craziest little noises, so I'm sure it's not a hearing problem. My guess is she's normal. I don't think I will try to fix her lisp, but if she continues to skip consonants in her words after she is 4, I'll get her evaluated by a speech therapist at school, thanks for the info on that, I'd never have known because we plan to have her in private school, but I will take advantage of anything our public school district offers.

As for the pediatrician, my kid had a long conversation with her recently about balloons and stickers, and she didn't say anything about her speech patterns, but I probably should have asked at the time. I think the doc pretended to understand her.

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answers from Sacramento on

She sounds totally normal to me. I think sometimes when kids' speech is advanced, they are talking more than their little mouths are ready for and they can't quite make all the sounds. My son is almost 2 and a half and talks a ton, but so did I (actually I still do). He has all kinds of sound substitutions.

I think if he talked more like a 2 year old... using only a few words in a row... you wouldn't notice the issues because he would only make the sounds he is good at. By the time I was 5 they were all gone. I had tons of subsitutions as a toddler and they were all handled by the time I was 4 or 5.

As for the ABC song... I wouldn't worry. Sounds like she knows the song but not really how it is connected to the letters. When she gets to the tough part to sing, she skips over it... no biggie. The two year old you saw probably knows the letters so was actually thinking of each letter as he/she sang. If you're worried about it... ask her to sing "L-M-N-O" I bet she can... she probably didn't know it was meant to be those letters.

If you're worried, ask her pediatrician, she can give you better advice than we can about what is normal.


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answers from San Francisco on

Hi A.,
My neice had a lisp that sounds similar to your daughters. When she was 3 or 4 we taped her talking for some reason, we may have just been playing around. After she heard the recording or her talking it seemed she spoke correctly after that. My daughter has done something similar but it was with singing a tune. We recorded her singing Happy Birthday for her Grandmother. She listened and asked to re record it. The second recording was perfect pitch wise where the first really wasn't. I've heard the theory that it is hard to hear your own voice partly because it sounds different "inside" and partly because we sorta tune it out.

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answers from San Francisco on

My youngest daughter who just turned 4 has a lisp, too. She is a thumb sucker, so I was concerned about her speech. Sometimes I find it hard to understand what she is saying, so I had her evaluated through our local school district. The speech therapist did note a few "issues" but said that they were still considered normal for her age. The "F" sound was one of the sounds she had the most trouble with. When a child is three they are elegible for evalution through the school district. So, if you are concerned enough you could call the district office and inquire about having her evaluted. But, like I said, eventhough my 4 year old did exhibit some "issues", she was still considered to be progressing on target for her age. I think the thereapist said that if by age 6 or so she hadn't improved, then intervention would be warranted.


answers from Fresno on

My daughter will turn 3 in a few days and we have the same issues! (My daughter is also a tomboy =) She can't say r, l,(she says "w" for both), ch (makes this weird guttural sound), st (says "t"), sl ("s"), and a few others. Oddly enough, she goes to a preschool where they do most of their teaching in Armenian (which has some very challenging sounds that I can't say), and apparently she is crystal-clear in Armenian, just not in English.

I asked a pediatric speech therapist that I know, and she said to give it a few years. Meanwhile, she said to try sitting in front of a mirror for a few minutes a day and say words and then have my daughter repeat them. That way she can see how my mouth makes the word, and then she can see how her mouth is making the word.

We did the mirror thing with our older daughter, who couldn't say "sp" - all the other sounds were fine, but instead of spaghetti, she'd want "faghetti," and she'd sing the song about the "itsy bitsy fider crawled up the water fout." She's 5 now and has grown out of it. Although my little one has a LOT of letters she can't say so I'm a little worried. I think I let her have her pacifier too long (she gave it up at 24 months). We'll see...



answers from San Francisco on

Probably the most important suggestion you've gotten here is to have her hearing tested... assuming that she'll sit for the test...

And then again to have her speech evalutated. It seems that she has a good vocabulary... that you can understand... so she probably doesn't have major issues...

But if her hearing is messed up... she will continue to lisp and pronounce words the way that she HEARS them... which might be muffled. Ever heard a deaf person talk? They are doing the best they can without actually hearing how to do it. My father is deaf in one ear... and had to have speech therapy as a child to get rid of his lisp... that still surfaces on the occasion...



answers from San Francisco on

Hi A.,

You might be thinking the same thing I thought about my daughter (she turned 5 last month)--her speech is so cute right now, but it won't be so cute if she still talks that way when she's a teenager...
The thing that made me most concerned was when she started getting frustrated when we couldn't understand certain words. She has trouble with the sounds of th, ch, sh, s, among others. By the way, she had a hearing test done at her 4-year-old check up, so we could rule out any hearing problems.

A friend of mine had her son evaluated by a speech therapist at 3 years old, only to be told that it was too early and to come back when he was four if there still seemed to be a problem. So I waited until my daughter was 4 1/2 and went down to the local school district office and made an appointment to see the speech therapist. She did a full evaluation and told me that her speech was still in the developmental range, and that some children don't develop those particular sounds until they are 7. So I suppose that's good news, that my daughter is in the normal range. But if it's still happening after she's 7, then I should get another evaluation.

So what I can tell you from all that, is that since your daughter is not yet 3 years old, she is probably still in the normal range also, and not to worry. But if you are concerned, give her until she's 4, and then make an appointment. At least it will settle your mind (and it's free through the school district).

In the meantime, turn on the video camera and capture that sweet lisp, so you can remember it when it's gone. :)



answers from Sacramento on

If you are really concerned you can contact your school district and request a speech evaluation. If there is a problem with the speech you can get services through the district. I KNEW my son had a problem and he was in speech since he was about 3 1/2. They can also provide you with nfo so tell you at what age certain sounds are appropriate. GOOD LUCK!!



answers from Sacramento on

At 3 yrs. old she can be assessed by your local school district's speech therapist, and if she qualifies for services, they must provide them free of charge. I would request an assessment, in writing, right away - because the process takes time. I say "in writing", because the school district has a legal timeline to follow to assess and put services in place if need be.

:0) Best wishes!

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