How do we know if a child will “outgrow” a developmental speech problem? The truth is we don’t know. Speech is such a complicated miracle of life which involves the coordination of multiple areas of the brain, multiple mouth and facial muscles, as well as coordination of the respiratory system and the vocal tract. There are simply too many places where the coordination might have a “hiccup.” Other factors that affect “knowing” whether a misarticulation will resolve itself includes the diversity of human beings. There are simply too many variables to neatly determine in a laboratory how a child will perform the multitude of mental, motor, and social tasks necessary to have coherent and easy conversation.
Some of the cues that we have in available to us in assessing a child’s speech development are charts that plot the “typical” development of speech in English speaking children. However, it is important to understand these charts and what they truly mean. Often times, I find that even professionals who work with children, such as pediatricians and early education teachers, misunderstand what these charts mean.
Here in lies an explanation: