Wondering If My 3 Year Old Has a Speech Problem.

Updated on March 12, 2008
L.R. asks from Parlin, NJ
37 answers

I was just looking for some advice on my 3 year old son. He talks very well for his age, but there are 10 letters in the alphabet that he leaves out in the beginning of the word. For example for sun he says un but if the s is in the middle of end of the word he can pronounce it. I brought it up to the doc and he said that if I was concerned I can have him evaluated. I called a few places and my ins doesn't cover this and the eval. is $375. Does anyone have any input? Myabe there are some suggestions on things that I can work on with him at home.

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So What Happened?

Thank you so much for all of your advice. My husband a I have decided to try and work with my son at home as much as possible and we're also going to look into signing him up for preschool and hope this will help with his development.

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N.M.

answers from New York on

I used to repeat the word over and over again. My son was speech delayed. But with certain words he left out the first letter. That I hear is common.
But just repear the word the right way. That trick always works

N.

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H.P.

answers from New York on

Hey L.,

I have done numerous preschool evaluations with our speech pathologist (I am a school psychologist), and know that this is a very typical developmental stage. Kids this age are learning how to "tame" their oral motor skills and some sounds take longer to develop. The advice that our SLP always gives is to speak in a slow clear manner so that you can be a good role model. My daughter who is two sometimes leaves the initial sound off as well. I make a game out of it and say sss.ssss.sun and she imitates. That tells me that she is capable of producing the sound, but may not carry over the skill at this time. As long as your son understands what is being said and can express his wants and needs, the speech skills will come. If he is still doing this 6 months before kindergarten then I would have him evaluated. If, however, you want to have your concerns put to rest, the public school system is responsible for completing an evaluation at your request free of charge once your child is three years of age. They should have a preschool program in place which services children with special needs, speech therapy could possibly be provided if necessary.

Hope this helps.

H.

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M.S.

answers from Rochester on

Hi there. My son who is 5 now has had speech issues for almost 3 years now. My Dr also wanted to wait, I was like no way. I called the health department in my county and they refered me to the early intervention team and they helped us get started. And guess what its free. Good Luck to you and your family.

M.

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A.M.

answers from New York on

hi
call your local school's child studyteam or call your local dept of special services and tell them your concerns.... he may qualify for early intervention services

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D.M.

answers from New York on

hi L.--I have my bachelors in speech pathology. i obtained it from Trenton State College, now the college of New Jersey. they have a program there (and I still think its in existance) where speech services are affordable becuase to obtain certification aspiring therapists need to fulfill alot of clinical hours. Its sounds as if your child might need to take the Goldman Fristoe Test. Its a test for articulation. Fot the s-sound, I might put a cheerio on the alvelor ridge--this is behind the teeth-and have your child pronounce the s-sound-ie.. just have him say -ssssssss...keep on modeling all of the sounds that your child has challenges with. he/she needs to see you pronounce them. also there might be some books in the library (or any book stores) that can discuss sounds in general...if you are interested in discussing further, please let me know.

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T.H.

answers from New York on

My son was the same, he would say chool instead of school but if I asked him to say something else like "ask" he would say the S just fine. We did have him evaluated because my insurance did cover it and they said it was just a developemental issue, meaning this age until about age 8 children are still developing and they do it at different rates. We worked with him and just would not except him say the word incorrectly and now he's 6 1/2 and in 1st grade with no speach issues.

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J.A.

answers from Syracuse on

Call your local school district. Tell them you want him evaluated. They will evaluate him in all areas for free and if he needs help they will put him in special pre-k classes. I went through this with my son.

And its funny because before he was evaled.. many professionals tried to tell me he was likely just fine.. but I have to tell you.. after they all said he needed intervention and now he is in an integrated Pre-K and improving all the time!

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J.R.

answers from New York on

You can go through your school district. Write a letter to the district department of Special Services and they will evaluate him. However, if they evaluate him and find he is delayed enough to require services, he could be classified (each state is different, in NJ, any delay before K is Pre-school Disabled), but he could get just speech in a daycare or pre-k setting. Within the academic school year before he enters K. He would have to be re-evaluated and at that point, the Special Ed. label could be removed and he could just be eligible for Speech. I am a school social worker on a Child Study Team in NJ. If you have any other questions, feel free to email me [email protected]____.com laws are different in each state. I know NJ law.

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T.M.

answers from New York on

Hi L.. I have a 3 year old daughter who does the same thing. If the s is followed by a vowel she's fine but if it has another letter with it ie:scared, she'll say 'cared'. My pediatrician doesn't seem concerned nor does her pre-school teacher. My husbands godfather is an audiologist and he says it just a part of there mouths motorskill development. Don't make a big deal of it and just work on sounding it out. Break down the words and let him know what they are suppose to sound like and go from there. That's what I do, and so far she understands it and it works much better for her. She seems to make more of a conscience effort to say it right. Good Luck.

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R.A.

answers from New York on

I think it may be early to worry. My toddler is 3, and confuses lots of letters - the beginning sounds especially. e.g. he says w's for l's, l's and w's for r's, he can't say 'th' at all, and he used to lisp, among other things. My mum says I did the same as a kid and I grew out of them one by one the way my kid grew out of the lisp. It seems to be more about inattention/carelessness or his trying to talk too fast or even not being aware of the correct pronunciation.
I would worry about stressing him with trying to make him speak exactly as I want right now. If he was five I might check with a professional though.

I hope that fits the picture or was helpful somehow :-)

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C.H.

answers from New York on

I believe you can call your local school district and ask for an evaluation for a preschooler aged 3 or above. This would be at no cost to you except the taxes yu already pay. You would be seen by the district's speech therapist during her working hours at the school. Then you'd have the peace of mind of knowing if his development is within normal limits and get suggestions and advice from an expert. I'm pretty sure the school has to do this as I am a retired 1st grade teacher in NJ with 32 yrs. experience.
Some sounds do take longer to come in and if you get overly anxious about it you do not help the child. My son said nosing for snowing at that age though he could say s at the beginning of other words. Go figure Good luck

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A.K.

answers from Buffalo on

Hi L.,

I am a speech pathologist, who does numerous evaulations on children between the ages of birth to five. It is very typical for a child to have sounds that they have not quite "mastered" yet. In fact there are certain sounds that are not totally mastered until school age. I agree that talking slower will help out at home. If your son is able to have his needs and wants met,is not frustrated and is understood the majority of the time....then I would not worry to much at this time. If he is still having problems within the next 6 months or so it would not hurt to have an evualtion done to set your mind at ease. If you do want to have an evaluation done, you should be able to contact your school district to see if your son can be evaluated through the school system. You should not have to pay almost $400. Hope this helps:)

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A.P.

answers from Albany on

I had a problem with my older daughters speach and there are groups that will do an eval for free. Try Beginings I am not sure where the office is but I know they do it they they came to my younger daughters day care last month.

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E.B.

answers from New York on

Hi L.,
Have him evaluated through the Board of Education - you need to write a letter to the Board of Ed in your area and request an Eval. They must respond with a list of places for you within 30 days - and it is no expense to you. If he needs any therapies (speech) it is covered by the board of education.

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J.W.

answers from New York on

I was a Kindergarten teacher before I had my son, so I know a little about this kind of stuff first hand.
I wouldn't worry about it now. The 'S' sound is hard for some children to get--especially if it's the beginning of a word. Wait till he's 5 years old to start having evaluations done. He's still really young, and I'm sure he'll pick it up soon.
At for things you can do, just keep saying 'S' words to him and asking him to say them back. Show his pictures of a sun, snake, sailboat, etc.
Good luck.

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C.D.

answers from New York on

If you are that concerned have him tested by your school district. the district has programs for children even if they are not in school. there are programs like smart start which can help with speech. and the evaluations don't cost anything through the district.

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L.Z.

answers from Rochester on

Have you had him tested for a hearing problem? He my not be able to hear the s when it sounds like sun... but he may be able to hear it when it sounds like dogs... there is a different sound there.. I am a sign language interpreter and work with different levels of hearing loss and children and adults with different communication needs... dont just go to any doctor.. go to perhaps a Deaf school or a place where there is a profound Deaf community to have him checked.. and even if he doesnt have a hearing loss, they could direct you in the way you need to go.. and I am certain the Deaf schools could also lead you in a way that could be affordable or get you to resources that could help.. he is old enough for the local school district to do an assessment of him as well.. even though he may not be attending school.. the earlier something is assessed and diagnosed the school may put him into a program even at 3 years old (at no cost to you, school tax dollars at work) to get him communicating ... check with your local school district first... in fact they may request a hearing test be done, and it would be at the expense of the school if there is an issue... good luck

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C.O.

answers from New York on

If you live in Rockland COunty, Jawanio in New City, provides free speech therapy. They will come to your house.

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I.M.

answers from New York on

Your son is still a toddler, and remember that girls are always seem to develop communication earlier than boys. Language can develop continously in smooth manner, or in spurts. Never compare the development of your son's speech to other children's language development. Give your son a chance to finish every words he says.Let him finish first before correcting it. Even to his thoughts let him finish first on what he is sayin. You still need to consult the physician if you notice any delays in your son's speech or an expert in speech development. I am not in the position to give the diagnosis. You still need to consult. But somehow this message helped you in some way. take care!

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L.G.

answers from Buffalo on

Hi L.~ Try contacting your school district. There should be a committee on preschool special education that would be able to conduct a speech eval for free. Then if any services were needed they could put them in place as well. The process takes some time, but well worth peice of mind for you. Good luck.

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S.S.

answers from Glens Falls on

I think it's good that you're aware of his speech patterns - getting him help now if there's a problem will save on the amount of time that he gets pulled out of his classroom for speech services in elementary school (I'm a former teacher). Many school districts have an early ed. program (EEE) which screens children beginning at age 3 and provides services and pre-school free of charge. Call your local superintendent's office to inquire. Also, see if your pediatrician can diagnose - it could save you the $375. Good luck!

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M.C.

answers from New York on

My daughter just turned 4 and I suspected she had the same problem. I also suspected her hearing but was able to figure that one out as well.

She still has a problem on a few letters but we are practicing.

Everyone learns at different levels. During the process I did find information on certain letters can be common and which ones that can indicate hearing.

You can find information on which letters and how to practice.

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R.B.

answers from New York on

I'm not sure about all states, but NY has state funded evaluations, my sister & myself have both used this system. Her for her son's speech, and I was referred there due to my son being a premmie. They do all kinds of evaluations (Speech, OT, PT, everything) free of charge. Please look into this at your local gov't center. Hope you find what you need! :)

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T.S.

answers from New York on

you should get an eval for free. call your school district, they will give you the info

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E.P.

answers from New York on

Hello L.,

My son is also 3 years old and is currently in speech therapy. You can go to the New York Eye and Ear on 310 E 14th St. I believe they take any insurance. Call them at###-###-#### (website - www.nyee.edu) and make an appointment. My son was talking a lot of jargon/jibberish the beginning of this year and through therapy his speech has improved immensely. The other thing I learned is that we tend to talk fast. Be patient and slow your speech. I noticed that when the therapist talks to my son her speech is a bit slower and has more articulation so that my son can hear and repeat what she is saying.

I hope this helps. Good luck.

E.

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S.R.

answers from New York on

Considering your doc's ambivolance, I would not worry about it. My son still mispronouces words at 5, but it eventually works out. When he intially started talking he mixed up "s" and "l" sounds all of the time, but we were able to gently correct him over time, as he got more familier with languages and what the words meant. He still says "abbel and "Yeyo" instead of "apple" and "yellow" sometimes, especially when he's tired. Try practicing troublesome words with him (make it a game of some sort, maybe pointing to pictures, etc.) Kids are kinda funny the way that they learn, sometimes they are concentrating so hard on one area, that they forgo another. In your son's case, he may be concentrating on learning more words and their meanings, rather than bothering to pronounce them right.

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S.F.

answers from New York on

Hi L.,
My middle child had speech therapy from age 3-5. I was persistent in finding out if ther was an issue. I first went through early intervention, but she didn't qualify. After age 3 you can not use EI any more. I do not remember all the steps to take, but I do know I did not pay for anything. Since I do not know where you live I can not suggest a specific place to call, for startes call the "Pupil Personel Dept. for Special Ed" in your school district. They should be able to point you in the right direction. IT is normal for some of the letter sounds to come later to a child. He could very well be right on target. My concren came also because my daughter was an excellent speaker and very bright for her age. I am ever so thankful for the services she was able to receive. Good Luck!

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L.G.

answers from Philadelphia on

Hi L.,
It's probably a stage... not every child goes through it, but I clearly remember my little brother having the same issue when he was about 3. one example: instead of saying "truck" he would either say "fruck" or remove the 'r' and say that BAD word! :) but if a 't' was in the middle of the word, he could say it. some kids have trouble with L's too, my name is L. and my little neices called me "weslie" for the longest time! if your child is still having trouble in a year or so, school districts have all kinds of help/screening with speech development that you might not even have to pay for!

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T.W.

answers from Syracuse on

Looks like you got alot of sound advice. All kids develope differently adn their mouths are constantly developing as well. Call your School district or DEC or BOCES. If you go through your district there is no cost. Good luck.

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F.N.

answers from New York on

When I thought my 2 and a 1/2 year old had speech problems, I went through the City of New Rochelle Public School system and received free help. They gave her one on one speech therapy once a week, sometimes twice. Also, what helped her a lot was nursery school. I enrolled her part time when she was three.

Children develop the ability to pronounce certain sounds at different ages. I found out it all doesn't happen the same for each child. Most teachers are adept at noticing speech problems and can refer you to places where you can get help. I also had my daughter's ears check to make sure her hearing was good. All the best. F.

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I.Q.

answers from New York on

Hi L.,

If you want an evaluation they can be done for free through the early inervention program of the state of NY. Ask your pediatrician and they should have the number to call. Unfortunately I was not able to find it in my files. Most likely it's nothing. There are many sounds that are developmental and he may not be able to pronounce them depending on where they are located in the word. I work in special education so I see alot of speech difficulties. Just have him tested. The worst that could happen is that they recommend some speech therapy that can only be beneficial at this stage.

Good luck!!
I.

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T.M.

answers from Rochester on

L. my children did this and their were four.I spoke to the speech therapist at school. My son the youngest kept the pattern the longest. The advice I got was to just practice those sounds, exaturating the sound . He went to school without any speech problems.

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A.S.

answers from Rochester on

Hi L.. I am a music therapist at a preschool for children with disabilities, so I feel I am somewhat qualified to answer this. It sounds like your son is pretty much age-typical in his speech development. I would definitely recommend getting an eval just to be sure. I think speech evals at my place of employment are paid for by the county or the school district. If you want, I can provide you with contact info.
In the meantime, there are lots of things you can do at home. If he enjoys music, try replacing the words in familiar songs with nonsense sounds (like doo, doo, doo). Make a game of doing silly initial sounds. Intersperse easy ones with the ones that cause you the most concern so he does not become frustrated. Practice doing sound effects like "sss" for a snake or a hose or a leaky tire as you play together. Depending on how much he can tolerate, have your son look at your mouth when you correct his speech. This can be especially fun to do in the bathroom mirror.
Hope this helps. Good luck! A. :)

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J.R.

answers from New York on

My daughter has speech problems,she is now 11 but had her tested at 2. There is a program called early intervention,in which you have all resources for free.it has been amazing,the progress she has made.she had attended a school in bay ridge brooklyn called william o conner,maybe if you call them they can refer you to someone for this program.

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M.P.

answers from Albany on

It looks like you have gotten a lot of great responses already!! Everyone is right, go to your school district and they will pay for the eval. You may just have to write a short letter explaining his difficulties and then they will get him tested. I am going through the same thing with my son right now. He is only 26 months, but I feel that his speech is not where it should be. Could he grow out of it on his own? Sure!! But he could take a while to do that. I am also a special education teacher, so I understand that many parents look at getting their child evaluated as a negative thing. When I brought the suggestion to my husband, he was immediately put off saying "He is only two, give him time." My opinion is, the more services you can get for your child and the earlier you can get them, the better. You don't want your child to be in kindergarten and having to be pulled out for speech services all the time if it was something that you could have taken care of when he was younger. If the evaluator feels that your son needs services, someone will come right to your home or preschool and see him there. If they don't feel that he needs services, they will probably at least give you some exercises to do at home (that music therapists suggestion was great with the silly song, too! I am going to try that with my son!). I am going to start the process in January, when my son is 2 1/2. Good luck to you and if you need anyone to talk to, just drop me a message!!

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I.P.

answers from New York on

L., his speech patterns are still developing. The problem with doctors is that they hold every child to the same standard. Children develop differently. Not all children are the same. The fact that he CAN pronounce the same letters he's skipping, at the beginning of words, at the end of words shows that he does not have a problem pronouncing the letters. I wouldn't worry about it too much. My 2 yr old calls his big brother Africk. His name is Patrick. He completely skips the P and turns the t into an f. But he has no problem any other time. I mentioned it to their pediatrician and he wasn't the least bit concerned. He just made a note in the file and said he'd keep an eye on it. I think it's just something all kids go through and they will outgrow it. When he skips a letter, gently reinforce how the actual word is pronounced. He'll catch on eventually.

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M.L.

answers from New York on

I don't know where you live, but you could try a local college. My dad needed speech therapy after his stroke. It wasn't covered by his insurance, so we went to Montclair State University. Students in there speech therapy program treated him for next to nothing. It was great!

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