Speech and Language Guidelines

  • A child can have a disability in one or more of the following areas and can be affected in their general education classroom setting.  Some children demonstrate difficulties expressing or understanding ideas due to vocabulary or grammar deficits;  some children produce speech that is hard to understand.  When these difficulties adversely affect classroom performance, they may be eligible for a specially designed instruction in the form of Speech Therapy.
    The following are areas that a child may struggle with.  Your child may have a speech impairment if some of the listed characteristics are present.  It should be noted, that these are simply guidelines posted for information only.  Every child meets their developmental milestones when they are ready.  Best practice is to consult with the Speech Language Pathologist if you have specific questions.
    Language skills:  
    Expressive Language- What is said
    Receptive Language- What is understood
    • Using immature grammatical structures (pronouns and verbs)
    • Answering questions
    • Understanding/using basic concepts
    • Following directions
    • Using limited language to describe events/activities

    Articulation:  The child's ability to say specific sounds in isolation, syllables, words, phrases, sentences, and in conversation.

                                                         Speech Sound Development
                                       Speech Sound Norms Taken from the Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation-2, 2000


    Initial Sound

    Medial Sounds

    Final Sound


    /b, d, p, h, m, n/

    /b, m, n/

    /m, p/


    /t, g, k, w/

    /f, g, k, ng, p, t/

    /b, d, g, k, n, t/






    /ch, j, l, s, sh, y, bl

    /ch, j, l, s, sh, z/

    /l, ng, ch, j, s, sh, r, v, z/


    /r, v, br, dr, fl, fr, gl, gr, kl, kr, pl, st, tr/

    /r, v/



    /z, sl, st, sw, th/



    Phonological Processes: When children are learning to talk they make predictable articulation errors. These errors are called phonological errors and typically disappear when the child is 3 years old The most common examples are, but not limited to: 
    • Final Consonant Deletion:  Makes a child very hard to understand because he/she is leaving off the final sound in a word production; saying "ba" for "ball" or "fi" for "fish".
    • Fronting:  substitution of sounds made in the back of the mouth like "k" and "g" for those in the front of the mouth like "t" and "d", ie, saying "tat" for "cat" or "dot" for "got".
    • Cluster Reduction:  Words that contain consonant blends such as "school' become "cool". 

    Voice:  A voice disorder may be present if the child presents differences in any of the following areas: (Doctor's report must be included with speech and language evaluation)

    • Pitch (range, inflection, appropriateness)
    • Intensity (loudness)
    • Quality (breathiness, hoarseness, harshness) Please consult the school SLP if the child's voice has a consistent unusual quality 

    Fluency:  Although many children exhibit typical disfluencies (whole word repetitions) during their preschool years, these become less evident as they mature. Warning Signs-to be aware of for possible Speech referral :

    • Frequent sound and syllable repetition
    • Frequent prolongations of sounds
    • Tension and struggle behavior while saying specific words
    • Avoidance of or delay in using certain words
    • Unusual sound or word usage (interjections)
    Pragmatic Language:  An individual may say words clearly and use long, complex sentences with correct grammar, but still have a communication problem - if he or she has not mastered the rules for social language known as pragmatics.
    Pragmatics involve three major communication skills:
    • Using language for different purposes, such as
      • greeting (e.g., hello, goodbye)
      • informing (e.g., I'm going to get a cookie)
      • demanding (e.g., Give me a cookie)
      • promising (e.g., I'm going to get you a cookie)
      • requesting (e.g., I would like a cookie, please)

    • Changing language according to the needs of a listener or situation, such as
      • talking differently to a baby than to an adult
      • giving background information to an unfamiliar listener
      • speaking differently in a classroom than on a playground

    • Following rules for conversations and storytelling, such as
      • taking turns in conversation
      • introducing topics of conversation
      • how to use facial expressions and eye contact
      • staying on topic
      • rephrasing when misunderstood
      • how to use verbal and nonverbal signals
      • how close to stand to someone when speaking