common childhood mispronunciations

Common Childhood Mispronunciations


This may sound odd coming from a speech-language therapist, but articulation errors are actually normal depending on the age of the child and the misarticulated sounds. While children are learning to produce the sounds of a language, they will simplify the words to make them easier to produce and coordinate. These simplifications are called phonological processes. As a child grows and matures, phonological processes are eliminated naturally. For some children, phonological processes persist, warranting speech-language pathology.

Common phonological processes that are expected to be eliminated from a child’s speech by the age of three and four years of age:

Processes Eliminated by Three Years:Common Childhood Mispronunciations

  1. Unstressed syllable deletion: deleting a weak syllable (e.g., banana à nana)
  2. Final consonant deletion: deleting the consonant at the end of the word (e.g., hat à ha)
  3. Diminutization: adding a “i” to the end of nouns (e.g., dog à doggy)
  4. Consonant assimilation: changing a sound so that it takes on a characteristic of another sound in the word (e.g., cat à tat)
  5. Reduplication: repeating phonemes or syllables (e.g., water à wawa)

Processes Eliminated by Four Years:

  1. Fronting of initial velar sounds: substituting a front sound for a back sound (e.g., can à tan)
  2. Deaffication: replacing an affricate sound (“ch” and “j”) with a continuant (“f, v, s, z, sh, zh”) or stop (“p, b, t, d, k, g”) (e.g., chip à sip)
  3. Stopping: substituting a stop consonant (“p, b, t, d, k, g”) for any other stop (e.g., sun à dun).

By the age of seven, it is expected that all phonological processes are eliminated from a child’s speech.

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

5 Benefits of In-Clinic and In-School Therapy

The new school year is underway, and children are adjusting to new routines, parents are meeting new teachers, and backpacks are filling with homework. Children are also starting in-school therapies again, often as stipulated through either an individualized education plan (IEP) or a 504 plan. Some children took the summer off from therapy, and others supplemented by participating in clinic-based therapies. With so many extracurricular activities, parents may wonder if their children need both school and clinic therapies. It is a decision based on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, severity of disorder, insurance coverage, scheduling, and therapeutic minutes received at school. There are numerous benefits for children attending both in-school and clinic-based therapies. See below for the top five reasons.

5 benefits to doing both in-clinic and in-school therapy:

  1. Increased frequency: Children attending multiple therapies per week benefit from havingThe Benefits of Therapy In-Clinic and In-School increased frequency of services. They are being exposed to more direct therapy, as provided in both school and clinic. Children are able to target goals more often, and they tend to make greater gains in a shorter period of time.
  2. More personalized, individual approach: Children receiving clinic-based therapy are often in a one-on-one session, targeting a child’s specific needs. Children in school often participate in groups, targeting both their own goals as well as the goals of peers. Both types have benefits, as an individual session is tailored specifically to a child’s needs, while an in-school group session often targets goals as well as crucial peer interaction.
  3. Generalization across environments: As children make gains toward goals, clinicians often look to see how well skills translate, or generalize, across environments. For example, if children have mastered a skill in the clinic, the question will be how well they are able to reproduce the skill at home. Having children attend therapy in two environments can aid in their generalization.
  4. Collaborating therapists: Oftentimes, clinic-based therapists will reach out to their client’s in-school therapist to collaborate. This allows both therapists to be aware of a child’s goals, while keeping apprised of progress, as well as ongoing areas of need. Collaborating between professionals can ensure best practice and that a child is receiving the best possible care.
  5. Targeting variety of goals: Therapists in schools are often limited to goals that can be tied to specific academic needs. School therapists are bound by goals that may be impacting a child academically, and they are not always able to look at the entire scope of a child’s need. Clinic-based therapists are able to target on more functional goals, ensuring that all areas of need are addressed. Working on all areas of need together can help children reach their goals and maximize progress.

If parents have specific questions about how their child could benefit from both in-school and clinic-based therapies, their child’s therapists can help highlight advantages. Therapists often welcome collaboration, and in doing so, children receive the best care.

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

reading to infants

The Importance of Reading To Infants

It is widely acknowledged that reading to preschool and school-aged kids is beneficial to their language development. However, is reading to infants just as important? The answer is yes! Reading to infants is important to their language and speech development. Not only does reading out loud to your infant benefit her brain development, but it also helps her learn vocabulary and the sounds of a language.

While you read to your infant, she will be taking in the sounds of her native language. Books with
rhyming words or repetitive phrases provide the most effective stimuli for infants to begin to parse out and recognize sounds in the language. As infants are read books, it also provides a perfect opportunity for them to learn vocabulary. As they hear the word “dog” and see a picture of a dog, they will begin to connect the picture and the word together. The more exposure infants have to books and pictures, the faster they will acquire vocabulary and make those connections. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. is a perfect book to read to infants as it includes repetitive phrases, bright colors and basic vocabulary.

Books for infants should also have certain physical characteristics. Books should be manipulative for the infant. Sturdy, cardboard books are great for babies to grab, turn and flip through. Bright colors and big pictures will also help the infant focus on the book and grab his or her attention. Reading with slow, exaggerated speech will also help infants easily parse the auditory stimuli, as well as keep infants entertained.

Other must-have books for reading to your infants include Goodnight Moon, The Hungry Caterpillar, 100 First Words and Baby Touch and Feel board books.

Click here for more on how to use books to encourage speech and language development in babies.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

communication skills for kids

Communication Skills for Kids

The development of appropriate and strong communication skills spans from infancy to adulthood. Additionally, being a good communicator includes a vast arrays of skills. Often the people who are classified as strong communicators are the people that are not only good at expressing their own thoughts and ideas, but those who are even better at being a good listener. Although developing your own communication skills takes time, there are ways that as parents or caregivers you can help your child on his or her own way to being a strong communicator.

Often, the best way to teach communication is to model what you want your child to be doing. When talking with others demonstrate the skills of a strong communicator.

Ways to Model Communication Skills for Kids:Communication Skills for Kids

  • Speak slowly and with an appropriate speaking volume.
  • Demonstrate how turns are taken within a conversation, rather than speaking at the same time or interrupting others.
  • When it is your turn to listen, exhibit active listening skills – make eye contact with the speaker, face your body towards the speaker and respond with the appropriate comment/question.
  • Provide opportunities for others to express their own thoughts and ideas. This can be done in both a formal (i.e., at the dinner table) or informally (i.e., during a casual conversation).

If you wish to take on a more direct form of teaching your child strong communication skills, start with the most concrete skills – body language. When a conversation partner demonstrates appropriate body language, he or she is demonstrating that the conversation is important to them and that they are listening. These skills include: eye contact, body orientation (i.e., facing the speaker), and having quiet hands/feet. These skills can be taught through visuals or videos and by displaying these behaviors. Once a child has mastered these basic communication skills, higher level skills can be built off of this foundation.

Click here to read about early warning signs for communication disorders.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

untreated dyslexia

What Happens When Dyslexia Goes Untreated

Language-based learning difficulties can affect up to 20% of the population, with dyslexia being the most common type. People with dyslexia often have difficulty translating ideas into written language and likely have trouble decoding (understanding) written language.

Research has shown that most children who struggle with reading in 3rd grade remainWhat Happens When Dyslexia Goes Untreated poor readers even in high school. This suggests that early intervention, as with all aspects of childhood language difficulties, is key. If these children receive intervention before the critical “learning to read” period (kindergarten through 3rd grade) changes to “reading to learn” in fourth grade, they are more likely to become successful readers.

Common Characteristics of Untreated Dyslexia:

  • Difficulty with planning and organizing, often spending more time on homework than necessary
  • Trouble with storytelling or finding the “right” words when writing or speaking
  • Avoidance of reading, reading below grade level
  • Difficulty with saying the alphabet, naming letters, and numerous spelling errors
  • Trouble with language comprehension and some difficulty with spoken language
  • Difficulty decoding (reading) words and sentences, slow when writing and reading

These characteristics highlight the importance of intervention. Due to the broad-reaching grasp that dyslexia can have on a child’s academic performance, intervening before the critical period ends (kindergarten through third grade) is imperative. Children struggling with dyslexia often have average intelligence, so parents may not realize that an underlying disorder is to blame for trouble at school. When a gap exists between a child’s performance and their overall potential, dyslexia may be the reason.

Children can be evaluated for reading disorders by neuropsychologists, school psychologists, and some reading specialists. If ongoing therapy is warranted, parents may choose to seek out the assistance of a licensed speech-language pathologist, as dyslexia is a language disorder impacting the reading/writing/spoken language realms.

Click here to learn more about our Orton-Gillingham Reading Center.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

speech and language activities for travel

Speech and Language Games for Traveling

Vacations are wonderful times to make memories and experience new places. Likewise, these experiences offer unique opportunities to expose your child to new vocabulary and practice language skills in a new environment. Although the hours spent in a car or on a plane seem anticlimactic and dull, this time offers the perfect opportunity to mix fun and language practice to maintain skills while away from therapy. Check out this list of speech and language games for traveling that will keep children entertained while also practicing various speech and language skills.

Speech and Language Games for Traveling:

  1. I Spy: This traditional game is a great exercise to use adjectives and to target expanding a child’sSpeech and Language Games for Travel utterance length. A player can provide clues that include descriptive words or colors (e.g., “I spy something that is shiny” or “I spy something that is blue”). This is a great opportunity for repeated practice of the meaning of an “adjective” as well as for improving a child’s vocabulary.
  1. Category Game: The Category Game is an easy adaptation of the game Concentration that is more appropriate for the car. The Category Game involves thinking of one category/group of items (e.g., Disney movies) and then taking turns until someone can’t think of anything. This is a great vocabulary activity that targets enhancing a child’s lexicon and improving his or her word retrieval skills. As children become more advanced, the category can also be more difficult.
  1. The Picnic Game: The Picnic Game is a great way to exercise memory and pre-literacy skills. The Picnic Game starts with the phrase, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring…”. The first player picks an item that starts with the letter “A” (e.g., apple). The next person then recites what has been previously said, adding their own item that starts with the next letter of the alphabet (e.g., “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring an apple and a banjo”). This game will test a player’s short term memory, as well as give him or her added exposure to the alphabet.
  1. Speech Sound Game: This game is similar to the Category Game, but rather than focusing on vocabulary, this game will target a child’s phonological awareness skills. To start, a player will pick a speech sound (e.g., “s”). Players will then have to think of words that start with that sound (e.g., “sit….sand….sun”). The first one who can’t think of a word is out. This game can be made more difficult by starting with just a random word (e.g., “pot”). Rather than thinking of words that all start with “p”, the next player will have to think of a word that starts with “t” (i.e., the last sound of the word that was said before). This is a great way to practice segmenting the sounds within a word, as well as give extra practice for producing certain speech sounds. Phonological awareness skills provide a foundation for later developing literacy skills.
  1. 20 Questions: This game is a great way to target receptive and expressive language skills. To begin a player will think of a person, place or thing and announce what category that is in. The other players will then ask yes/no questions in order to try to guess what the player is thinking of within 20 questions. This game requires answering with a reliable yes or no, as well as using a variety of vocabulary words to ask creative questions. 20 Questions can also be adapted to a variety of levels, making it as easy or hard for each player’s skills.

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

can my child be bilingual with a language delay

Can My Child be Bilingual with a Language Delay?

In a time where speaking more than one language is becoming increasingly common, the topic of being bilingualCan My Child be Bilingual with a Language Delay? (speaking more than one language) and having a language delay arises. How does having a language delay affect the acquisition and use of a second language? What if your child is a native speaker of both languages? If your child has a language delay, should they be exposed to a second language?

Sometimes children speak two languages when they are exposed to one language at home and a different language at school or daycare. Other children speak two languages because their parents have chosen to expose them to a second language (e.g. an immersion program). Further, there are different terms for these types of acquisitions. Simultaneous acquisition occurs when children acquire two languages before the age of 3, and sequential acquisition occurs when children acquire a second language after their first language is established (Lowry).

How Does a Language Delay Affect Learning a Second Language?

But what if your child has a language delay? How does this affect their languages? In the case of simultaneous acquisition, children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) have no more difficulty learning two languages than children with SLI who are learning only one language (Paradis 2003, Gutierrez 2008). (SLI occurs when children have difficulties with language but no co-occurring developmental difficulties or medical diagnoses.)

In the case of sequential acquisition, if your child already has a language delay, you may be hesitant to expose your child to a second language. However, although these children do face language-learning difficulties, they are not at a greater disadvantage than a monolingual child with the same language difficulties (Lowry).

These conclusions seem promising for those wanting to learn multiple languages, but according to research done by Paradis, Genesee, and Crago (2011) (referred to herein as “the study”), children with SLI may continue to have language difficulties in their second language even after years of exposure. The study was conducted with Turkish speaking children learning Dutch, and showed that the children with SLI learning a second language continued to lag behind their monolingual peers with SLI. It has been suggested that the continued struggles were a result of the children coming from low socioeconomic and disadvantaged minority groups; however, this has not been proven (Paradis 2010).  Given the varying conclusions of existing scientific research, it is important to make as informed of a choice as possible by looking at all the factors applicable to your child. No matter what you decide, be sure to support your child’s language(s) in all environments to foster growth.

Seek the help of a speech and language pathologist if think your child has difficulties with language.

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!


  1. Paradis, J., Crago, M., Genesee F., & Rice, M. (2003). Bilingual children with specific language impairment: How do they compare with their monolingual peers? Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 46, 1-15.
  2. Gutierrez-Clellen, V., Simon-Cereijido, G, & Wagner, C. (2008). Bilingual children with language impairment: A comparison with monolinguals and second language learners. Applied Linguistics, 29, 3-20.
  3. Lowry, Lauren. Can children with language impairments learn two languages? Retrieved from
  4. Paradis, J., Genesee, F., and Crago, M. (2011). Dual language development and disorders: A handbook on bilingualism and second language learning. Baltimore, Maryland: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
  5. Paradis, J. (2010). The interface between bilingual development and specific language impairment. Applied Psycholinguistics, 31, 227-252.


phonemic awareness skills

Phonemic Awareness Skills

Phonemic awareness is a building block for literacy. Phonemic awareness, or a child’s ability to manipulate sounds to change word meaning, make new words, or even segment and then blend sounds together to make words, are all important skills when children are learning to read. Parents can practice the skills below with their children, adding onto previous knowledge while increasing complexity. As with any skills, it is important that children have a strong phonemic awareness foundation to aid in reading and ultimately writing, too!

Building Phonemic Awareness Skills By Age:

Age Skills Acquired During Year
3 years ·         Begin to familiarize children with nursery rhymes·         Stress alliteration (e.g., “big boat” or “many mumbling mice”)

·         Identify words that rhyme (e.g., snake/cake)

4 years ·         Child can begin to segment sentences into words·         Children start to break down multisyllabic words (e.g., “El-i-an-a”)

·         Children generate rhyming words

5 years ·         Notes words that do not rhyme within a given group·         Blends sounds together
6 years ·         Blends sounds together to create words (e.g., /p/ /a/ /t/, pat)·         Segments sounds to identify parts of words

·         Enjoys creating multiple rhymes

7 years ·         Begins to spell phonetically·         Counts sounds in words
8 years ·         Moves sounds to create new words (e.g., “tar” turns to “art”)


The above ages highlight typical skill mastery. As with most skills, there are varying ranges of development. Parents should incorporate phonemic awareness activities into usual book reading, and have fun talking about sounds and words!

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Reference: Goldsworthy (2003); Justice (2006); Naremore, Densmore, & Harman (2001).


/k/ and /g/

Help Your Child Pronounce /k/ and /g/


/k/ sounds, like in “car,” and /g/ sounds, like in “go,” are among the earlier developing sounds in a child’s repertoire. These sounds tend to emerge after bilabial sounds (/p, b, m/) are mastered, and most children will be consistently using /t, d, n/ sounds as well. While there is always a range for development, most children will master /k/ and /g/ sounds before 4 years old.

Understanding Pronunciation of /k/ and /g/:

  • Place of production: /k/ and /g/ sounds are produced in the same place – the back of the Help Your Child Pronounce /k/ and /g/mouth. Formally classified as “velars,” these sounds are often referred to as “back sounds.” The tongue is elevated in the back, making contact with the velum or “soft palate.” Typically errors in place of production are most common for these sounds.
  • Manner of production: These sounds are classified as “stops” or “plosives,” meaning that the sound does not get continuously pushed out, like it would with an /s/, for example. There is a burst of sound when producing a /k/ or /g/ sound alone.
  • Voicing: /k/ and /g/ place and manner of production are identical, however these two sounds differ when it comes to voicing. /k/ is the voiceless pair to /g/’s voiced sound. For example, when producing a /k/ sound, our vocal chords are off (not vibrating), however when producing a /g/ sound, our vocal chords are on and vibrating. Try it – put your hand on your throat and feel the vibration when producing a /g/, and feel the difference when producing an /k/! Many children will understand the difference between the two sounds but may substitute one for the other.

These sounds are integral for a child’s overall speech intelligibility, however there are common errors that are often seen for /k/ and /g/ sounds. These sounds are produced in the “back” of the mouth, and children who error will tend to substitute “front” sounds for /k/ and /g/. For example, a child who is demonstrating fronting may ask for “teas” when intending to play with keys, or may ask for “tate” rather than cake! When fronting /g/ sounds, children may explain “frod” for frog, or even “dorilla” for gorilla. These errors are common, however, may warrant remediation if they persist past 3 years old.

Click here to understand why pronouncing /r/ is so hard!

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!


How Dentition Affects Articulation

Successfully producing speech sounds involves an intricate coordination between a person’s oral structures and muscles. The oral structures that are involved in speech production are the lips, teeth, tongue, cheeks and vocal tract. Although some structures have a more direct role than others, all play a role in producing intelligible speech. When one structure is taken out of the equation, the ultimate product – speech – may be affected. During the current blog we are going to discuss how a child’s dentition will affect a person’s speech.

How Does Dentition Affect Speech?

Dentition plays an interesting role in a child’s speech as his or her teeth are still developing. Teeth will come and goHow Does Dentition Affect Articulation? as baby teeth are lost and permanent adult teeth grow in and incorrect bites are corrected with braces. Throughout these changes, a child’s articulation may or may not be affected. There are certain sounds that depend on teeth for correct articulation. For example, when producing the sound “f”, you need your teeth to bite down on your lip in order to cause the friction with your air source to make the sound. If your front teeth are missing that sound will be distorted.

Strident Sounds

There are a group of sounds that are classified as “strident” sounds. Strident sounds are produced by the friction of a fast airflow being pressed against a speaker’s teeth. Strident sounds include: /f/ (“fish”), /v/ (“vet”), /s/ (“sew”), /z/ (“zoo”), /tʃ/ (“chin”), /dʒ/ (“gym”), /ʃ/ (“shoe”), /ʒ/ (e.g., medial sound in “treasure”). Other sounds that are articulated in the front of a speaker’s mouth (i.e., in between your upper teeth and lower lip”) that could be affected by dentition are voiced and voiceless “th” (e.g., “the” and “thirst”).

Typically if a child can articulate the sound correctly before the loss of a tooth, then the child will maintain that skill while the adult tooth comes in. However, it is important to be aware that the sound may be distorted or sound funny while that tooth is missing, although it will only be temporary. The strident sounds may sound distorted due to the fact that there is nothing in the child’s mouth to cause the additional friction that that sound relies on, resulting in an “airier” sound.

The effect of dentition on speech becomes more complicated when a child has both an articulation disorder, as well as an incorrect bite (e.g., “open bite”). For example, if a child is working on correctly producing the sound /s/, but also has an open bite, it will be difficult for them to reach that speech goal due to the fact that structurally, their teeth are not in the ideal position for that sound. This is a great opportunity for that child’s speech-language pathologist and orthodontist to collaborate together on a therapy plan or timeline. Ultimately, having a correct bite or dentition will have a positive impact on a child’s ability to produce intelligible speech.

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!