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When do speech sounds develop?
Speech pathologists disagree on this. Studies vary widely on some sounds; for example, one study showed that most children were able to say the /t/* sound by age 3, while another study showed that most children were able to say the /t/ sound by age 6. Instead of looking at speech sounds, a good speech pathologist looks at how intelligible the child is.
*Slashes surrounding letters means the sound rather than the letter. The /s/ sound could be letter s (sit) or letter c (city).

What is a speech sound disorder?
A speech sound disorder is when a child's speech is harder to understand than other children of the same age. Although others around can tell that the child is saying words wrong, the child often cannot tell what the problem is. This may result in tantrums, frustration, shutting down, or insistence of "That's what I said!"

My child may have apraxia. How long until the world comes crashing down?
The good news is that 80% of children diagnosed with apraxia are misdiagnosed. Apraxia exists, but it is rare--one to two in every 100 children with a speech sound disorder. Speech sound disorders occur in about 7% of all children, and apraxia occurs in about 1% of those children... carry the one... right, very few children have apraxia. Even if your child does have apraxia, he or she can probably become very intelligible.

What is the difference between intelligence and intelligibility?
Intelligence means brain power. Smartness. Intelligibility means clear speech. The two are not related--many unintelligible kids have normal intelligence.

How can I tell if my child has apraxia or is perhaps mislabeled?
Characteristics of apraxia that differ from other speech disorders:
1. Inconsistent errors. Cake may be pronounced tape once time, lit another time, and ate another time.
2. Frequent vowel errors, other than /r/ distortions. If the child says foi instead of for, that does not mean he has apraxia--it is really a consonant error, because the /r/ is the problem. If he makes errors on many vowels, especially inconsistent errors, apraxia becomes more likely.
3. Oral groping. The child's mouth moves around before/while saying a word, obviously trying to get the mouth to the right position.
4. Frequent distortions. There are four types of speech errors: additions, omissions, substitutions, and distortions. A distortion is when the sound is close to being correct but is.. well, distorted. However, it is not a completely different sound. So in apraxic speech this is happening frequently and without forming a pattern. Lisped /s/ and lax /r/ are distortions, but they do not indicate apraxia.

If my child has apraxia, does that mean that he needs to work on tongue strength, blowing, or tongue movements?
No, apraxia of speech only affects speech. It has nothing to do with tongue strength or mobility. Speech requires quick, precise movements, not strong movements using a large range of motion. Those exercises are a waste of time that could be spent practicing speech. Practicing speech helps speech improve. Research has shown again and again that non-speech exercises do not help speech improve.