Hearing management

Posted by: Purple | 2009/09/28


speech therapy


At what age should children be saying the " r"  sound and the " th"  sound?
My son is 5 and a half (he will be 6 in February) and he still says " wabbit"  and " wobot"  and " sank-you" .

Do I need to take him to speech therapy, or is this still age appropriate? If it is still age appropriate, when do I need to start being concerned about this?

He is also saying " gweem"  instead of " green" , and he says " vench"  instead of " bench" .
However, when I point out that it is " b, bouncy ben bench"  and not " vench"  he then corrects himself and for a few days will say it correctly, and then he seems to forget.
He can make a " th"  sound and when he says " with"  or " the"  it comes out correctly, but it is still " sank-you"  instead of " thank-you"  and " free"  instead of " three" .

He is a very talkative child, full of convoluted questions and clearly understands what we are saying to him and his teacher is not concerned that there is any problem with hearing or understanding and hasn' t raised any concern about his speech. He started talking at 9 months and although his speech stagnated at the 20 month mark and before we put the grommets in, it starting improving on the afternoon of the op.

He is currently in grade 0 and will be in grade R next year, and only in grade 1 in 2011.
We' ve had grommets put in when he was 20 months old and earlier this year. Before we did the grommets this year, the ENT described the hearing loss as mild.

Shall I wait till next year before seeking speech therapy, or should I be doing this now?

Expert's Reply


Hearing Expert

Dear Purple

Most of a child's articulation should be correct around the age of four and can then continue to improve. If you have concerns, then take him for a full speech and language evaluation to a Speech Language Pathologist and rather be safe. I think it is important to have this taken care of rather sooner than later.

You mention a mild hearing loss in the past, during problems with his middle ears. It is very important to keep on monitoring his hearing as well as middle ear functioning on a regular basis. If you have not had this done in the recent past, i would recommend that you see an Audiologist for a full hearing evaluation as well as an evaluation of the functioning of the middle ears. Unfortunately children loose a period of accurate hearing when they have frequent ear infections or fluid build up. It is often during this period that they develop possible language and speech delays.

Please feel free to contact me should you require any further information or if you need a referral to a professional in you area (

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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