Improving Speech Skills

Improving Speech Skills I frequently provide guidance to parents on improving their child’s speech skills.  As an Arlington speech therapist, I take time to explain to parents that reinforcing speech skills during the week is equally as important as the work that I do with their child at each therapy session.

Improving Speech Skills

Having your child meet with a speech and language pathologist once per week is typically not sufficient to generalize learned skills to the child’s natural environment.  Generalization of speech skills outside of the therapy setting requires repetitive practice that focuses on skills that the child uses on a daily basis.  For example, I was recently working with a 5 year old child on accurate production of the “L” sound (e.g., “Love”).  As the family of my five year old client mentioned that they would be taking a family trip to “Disneyland,” I decided that it would be easiest for the family to incorporate this goal into their child’s interaction with specific family members and Disney characters that he met each day on vacation.  For example, when the child met Mickey Mouse, he would be expected to state, “I love you Mickey!” or when meeting a specific family member (e.g., Grandma), he would state, “I love you grandma!”

While parents must make sure that a younger child understands and completes their speech and language homework, an older child should be expected to complete the assigned homework independently, as this can lead to a child developing an increased sense of responsibility.  Assigned homework does not need to be extremely time consuming.  In fact, a few minutes of practice each day may be sufficient.

The following articles provide useful suggestions for generalization of speech skills from the therapy setting to a child’s natural environment:

Improving Speech Skills

Improving Speech Skills in Northern Virginia

If you are interested in learning how A Step Above Speech Language Pathology can improve your child’s speech skills, please contact us for more information.  We cater to clients in Northern Virginia, specifically in Herndon, Reston, Arlington, Vienna, Mclean, Annandale, Fairfax, Merrifield, and also in Washington, D.C.


Marshalla Speech and Language.  (2003-2012).  Carryover Techniques for Speech-Language Therapy.  Retrieved from











Child Articulation Disorders

Child Articulation DisordersAs a Reston speech therapist, I am frequently asked how to best treat child articulation disorders.  Specifically, I am frequently asked the following questions by parents about their children:

1.  Is the speech error that I am hearing my child produce normal for their age?

2.  Will my child outgrow the speech sound errors that he/she is currently producing?

3.  What are the components of an effective speech sound (i.e., articulation) correction program?


Child Articulation Disorders

First, it should be pointed out that it is common for children to make speech sound errors as they are learning to talk.  This is a normal part of speech and language development.  For example, you may notice that when your child produces the /s/ sound, he/she sticks their tongue out between their teeth and it comes out sounding more like a “th” sound (e.g., “sun” = “thun”).  This is known as an interdental lisp, and is developmentally appropriate for all children until approximately the age of 4.5.  In fact, all speech sounds have a range of ages as to when they should be produced correctly by a child. A speech sound disorder only occurs when errors occur past a certain age.   In order to find out when a specific sound should be produced correctly by your child, referring to a speech and articulation development chart such as the following can be extremely helpful:

When determining whether a child will outgrow the speech sound errors that they are currently producing, it is again important to look at their chronological age.  Since it is common for children to produce speech sound errors up until a certain age, many sound errors will resolve on their own.  However, once a child reaches the age at which a specific speech sound should be produced correctly and the sound is still being produced in error, it is unlikely to resolve on its own without the help of a professional speech therapist.

So, what are the components of a good speech sound correction program?

1. Hearing screening and oral-mechanism exam: It is very important that your child be able to hear the difference between their error sound and the correct sound.  It is equally important that your child’s oral structures (i.e., teeth, lips, tongue, etc.) be adequate for speech production.

2. Use of multi-sensory techniques: In order to assist your child in making proper speech sounds, auditory, visual and tactile (i.e., touch) cues should be utilized in the session.  This may include the clinician providing your child with appropriate models, use of a mirror, and helping your child to shape their oral structures to produce an appropriate sound.

3. Provide a large number of practice opportunities: For a child to learn a new sound, a new motor plan must be developed.  This is accomplished through successive repetitions of the target behavior when given many practice opportunities.

4. Structure of session should be motivating to the child: The teaching of speech sounds can be taught through the use of motivating activities.  High interest games and movement activities will help to keep your child on-task and looking forward to their next session.

5. Homework assignments: It is essential that homework assignments be provided following each session in order for learned skills to generalize into day-to-day communication.

Through the use of appropriate education and a program that contains the above-mentioned components, your child’s production of specific speech sounds should continue to improve over time.

If you are interested in learning more about articulation therapy provided by A Step Above Speech Language Pathology, please contact us for more information.  We cater to clients in Northern Virginia, specifically in Herndon, Reston, Arlington, Vienna, Mclean, Annandale, Fairfax, Merrifield, and Washington, D.C.



Child Articulation DisordersGeoffrey Greenman, M.A., CCC-SLP is a Northern Virginia speech therapist.  He is the owner of “A Step Above Speech-Language Pathology.” We are a local Falls Church speech private practice helping to correct child articulation disorders.