My Son Has a Speech Impediment

28 September, 2020
Q My son is 5 and he has issues with his F sound. It sounds like S sometimes. Like four sounds like sore. Not all his F's come out that way.

He says friend not sriend, for example. Does he have a speech issue or is it a normal thing at his age to do this?

I have found some great help on the internet on things we can do to help with speech, songs to sing, things to practice saying, etc., but was curious if anyone else's kids did this.

Answer

In this counseling answer:

Get some medical advice to investigate the matter further just to be sure that there is nothing else that could be causing these issues.

On occasion, speech problems can be a result of a hearing problems.

If all is clear in this department, then he would likely be referred to a speech therapist who will be able to support both him and you in providing activities.

One of the first things they tend to ask is if the child is exposed to or speaks in any other languages.

When you realize which sounds he is struggling with, you can pay closer attention to this and be helping him to correct it.


As-Salamu `Alaykum my dear sister, 

It is not unusual for children at this age to have some problems with speech still so it may not be a matter to worry about. However, it is also normal to feel a bit concerned about it at least as a parent for fear that there is perhaps something more sinister going on.

Speech difficulty

Sometimes it is the case that the speech impediment has been quite minor and it only when they are due to start school, around the age of 5 like your son, that suddenly any problems become more obvious, even the small ones.

Masha Allah, you’ve done the right thing by trying to find ways to help him with this issue. Most of the time this is all that is needed to support a child of this age overcoming a speech difficulty.

Medical advice

Just to be on the safe side however, I would also recommend getting some medical advice to investigate the matter further just to be sure that there is nothing else that could be causing these issues.

If you take him to your family doctor, they will be able to give him a check over and refer him to the necessary specialists.

On occasion, speech problems can be a result of a hearing problems. Since he is talking well otherwise and probably doesn’t show any obvious problems with his hearing it would be unlikely that anything is wrong, or if it is, then it would just require a minor procedure to fix his hearing.

Your doctor would refer you to an audiologist or Ear, nose and throat specialist to determine if this is the case.

Likewise, there may be a structural abnormality in his mouth that makes it difficult for him to pronounce certain sounds. Again, this would be picked up by these specialists.

Speech therapist

If all is clear in this department, then he would likely be referred to a speech therapist who will be able to support both him and you in providing activities, much like the ones you are probably doing, to correct any abnormalities in his speech.


Check out this counseling video


One of the first things they tend to ask is if the child is exposed to or speaks in any other languages.

It wouldn’t be unusual for this to be a factor that impacts on the pronunciation of words as each language has different sounds that are unique to the language but when applied to another can make the words sounds a little unusual.

Conclusion

This may be the case. Otherwise, it may be that since it’s quite a minor thing that only affects particular words you haven’t been so conscious of it and he has gotten used to using different sounds without being corrected.

Now you realize which sounds he is struggling with, you can pay closer attention to this and be helping him to correct it.

May Allah bring you son and your family good health and may He make it easy for you to support your son and help him through his difficulties.

Salam


Answer by sister Hawaa Irfan

As-Salamu `Alaykum,

Sometimes, silence is not golden and talking with your child, not to or at your child is important in the development of their speech, self-expression and vocabulary.

There are developmental milestones when the brain is more able to absorb language along with the fact that child vary in rate of development.

Developing the mechanisms (the jaw, lips and tongues, nose, breathing, related muscles) begins in the first few month of life when the baby ‘coos’ and babbles a lot.

In general, the milestone for a five year old can be gaged by answering the following questions:

   
Your AnswerYesNo
Understands more than 2,000 words.______
Understands time sequences (what happened first, second, third, etc.).______
Carries out a series of three directions.______
Understands rhyming.______
Engages in conversation.______
Sentences can be 8 or more words in length.______
Uses compound and complex sentences.______
Describes objects.______
Uses imagination to create stories.______

Between 4 – 5 years of age in general a child can:

*Uses sentences that give lots of details (e.g. “I like to read my books”).

*Tells stories that stick to a topic.

*Communicates easily with other children and adults.

*Says most sounds correctly except a few like l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, th.

*Pays attention to a short story and answers simple questions about it.

*Hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school.

Typical developmental problems for this age group include:

*Hearing difficulties

*Problems following complex/compound directions

*Difficulty with conversational interaction

*Poor vocabulary acquisition

*Difficulty learning preschool concepts, such as colors and counting

*Stuttering

*Difficulties with grammar and syntax

*Unclear speech

Around six years of age, in addition to the above consonants are mastered:

*f, v, sh, zh, th,

*He should have concepts of  7

*Speech should be completely intelligible and socially useful

*Should be able to tell one a rather connected story about a picture, seeing relationships

*Between objects and happenings

You Can:

-Give your full attention when your child starts a conversation whenever possible.

-Make sure that you have your child’s attention before you speak.

-Acknowledge, encourage, and praise all attempts to speak. Show that you understand the word or phrase by fulfilling the request, if appropriate.

-Pause after speaking. This gives your child a chance to continue the conversation.

-Continue to build vocabulary. Introduce a new word and offer its definition, or use it in a context that is easily understood. This may be done in an exaggerated, humorous manner. “I think I will drive the vehicle to the store. I am too tired to walk.”

-Talk about spatial relationships (first, front, few and the opposites)

-Offer a description or clues, and have your child identify what you are describing: “We use it to sweep the floor” (a broom). “It is cold, sweet, and good for dessert. I like strawberry” (ice cream).

-Work on forming and explaining categories. Identify the thing that does not belong in a group of similar objects: “A shoe does not belong with an apple and an orange because you can’t eat it; it is not round; it is not a fruit.”

-Help your child follow two – three-step directions: “Go to your room, and bring me your book.”

-Encourage your child to give directions. Follow his or her directions as he or she explains how to build a tower of blocks.

-Play games with your child such as “house.” Exchange roles in the family, with your pretending to be the child. Talk about the different rooms and furnishings in the house.

-The television also can serve as a valuable tool. Talk about what the child is watching. Have him or her guess what might happen next. Talk about the characters. Are they happy or sad? Ask your child to tell you what has happened in the story. Act out a scene together, and make up a different ending.

-Take advantage of daily activities. For example, while in the kitchen, encourage your child to name the utensils needed. Discuss the foods on the menu, their color, texture, and taste. Where does the food come from? Which foods do you like? Which do you dislike? Who will clean up? Emphasize the use of prepositions by asking him or her to put the napkin on the table, in your lap, or under the spoon. Identify who the napkin belongs to: “It is my napkin.” “It is Daddy’s.” “It is John’s.”

-Discuss the size (large or small), shape (long, round, square), and weight (heavy or light) of the packages in the home or when shopping.

-Help your child relate to books by selecting stories that mirror family and Islamic values

-Make a special spot for books, magazines and other reading material where your child is able to reach books without help.

-Help your child create his own “This Is Me” or “This Is Our Family” album; then enjoy looking and talking about the photographs.

-Talk to your child about books or TV programs and videos you watch together.

Games

“I spy, with my little eye, something that begins with J.” This helps in the focus on phonics, describe items by the sound they start with: “I spy something that starts with the ‘f’ sound and ‘s’ sound.

If your child is bi-lingual:

-From time to time, children may mix grammar rules, or they might use words from both languages in the same sentence.  This is a normal part of bilingual language development.

-When a second language is introduced, some children may not talk much for a while.  This “silent period” can last for a few months or for as long as a year.  Again, this is normal and will go away.

Visiting a speech therapist with your child, would be most beneficial, for specialist guidance and learning techniques that you as the parent could facilitate at home.

Learning to speak more slowly and clearly, emphasizing the letters of concern would help your son greatly, especially if you speak face-to- face accentuating the letters “f” and “s”.  Also, getting into the habit of reading short stories and make reading fun!

If your son likes cars, then instead of saying the onomatopoeic word “brrm… brrm” say “vrrmm… vrrmm”. This will help him exercise his lower lip which is required in the pronunciation of the “f” sound.

I hope that can help you.

Salam


Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. My Son Has a Speech Impediment - About Islam

Read more:

About Hannah Morris
Hannah Morris is a mum of 4 and she currently works as Counsellor and Instructor of BSc. Psychology at the Islamic Online University (IOU). She obtained her MA degree in Psychology and has over 10 years of experience working in health and social care settings in the UK, USA, and Ireland. Check out her personal Facebook page, ActiveMindCare, that promotes psychological well-being in the Ummah. (www.facebook.com/activemindcare)