Difficulty saying words clearly


To be able to speak clearly a child has to be able to:

  • Hear the range of speech sounds - if you are concerned about your child's hearing please ask your Health Visitor or GP to refer him/her for a hearing test
  • Physically move the muscles that are used to make speech sounds,
  • Co-ordinate the right movements to make the different speech sounds
  • Learn and use all the different speech sounds in the English sound system.

Speech is a complicated skill that develops gradually from birth when babies start to coo and babble and continues developing throughout the pre-school years and beyond.  

Most children are using a range of speech sounds and can be easily understood around the age of 5 but they may still be making mistakes, for example saying "fum" instead of thumb.


Children with speech sound problems may: -

  • Use a limited number of sounds
  • Swap sounds around for example saying 'tup' instead of 'cup'
  • Miss sounds out e.g. saying 'poon' for 'spoon' or 'du' for 'duck'
  • Have difficulty saying long or complicated words like 'elephant' or 'aeroplane'