How to Use the Speech Sound Development Chart to Stop Stuttering

speech sound development

For most children, stuttering occurs over several activities at home, school and in play. For some children, a stutter only occurs in specific situations, such as talking on the telephone or talking in front of groups. However, there are children that develop a stutter which can have a great effect on a child’s confidence when speaking and may affect their social skills or how they relate to others. Stuttering may occur when a combination of factors comes together and may have different causes in different people. In this article, we will discuss how the speech sound development chart can be used to combat stuttering.

It is probable that what causes stuttering differs from what makes it continue or get worse. Approximately 5 percent of all children go through a period of stuttering that lasts six months or more. Three-quarters of those will recover by late childhood, leaving about 1% with a long-term problem. The best prevention tool is early intervention, and you can use the speech sound development chart to help determine if a child has a stutter or is still developing those oral skills.

What Is Stuttering?


Stuttering, also known as stammering, is a communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions, prolongations, or abnormal stoppages of speech. A stutter can range from being mild to being very severe. It begins during childhood and can continue right through a person’s life. It is characterized by specific types of disruptions or disfluencies in the production of speech sounds that occur regularly and impact on communication.

Most people produce disfluencies in their speech. However, these are usually brief and generally do not cause a problem. It is not uncommon for young children to have disfluencies in their speech. This can occur for no apparent reason, or the child may be excited or tired.

The impact of stuttering on a child is highly individual such that a mild stutter may cause one child extreme frustration and anxiety while a more severe stutter in another child may not affect them at all. The child may avoid situations in which the stutter is worse or hide their stuttering by choosing words on which they are less likely to stutter.

The child may also re-arrange their words and sentences to avoid a stutter. Sometimes they will pretend they have forgotten what to say or remain quiet. School-age children will often report feeling embarrassed when they have to read out loud or talk in front of the class. Not feeling comfortable when speaking due to articulation difficulties can lead to a language delay or disorder.

Developmental stuttering is most common in children younger than 5 years old and more often males than females. This type occurs as the child develops speech and language abilities. It can resolve without treatment. However, during this time, children are expanding their vocabularies rapidly and learning complex language rules. This is when children learn more complex sentences that require more motor coordination to produce smoothly, so it is natural to stumble a bit along the way.

Neurogenic stuttering is caused by signal abnormalities between the brain and nerves or muscles. Psychogenic stuttering originates in the part of the brain that governs thinking and reasoning.


If your child has moments when they're fumbling over words, there are different techniques to put less pressure on a child in a speaking situation. It is best to be open about it and encourage children to practice patience, but don't tell them to “think about what you want to say.” Instead, model good speech habits by speaking in a relaxed and slow manner. It is okay to pause in between words. It can also help to find a speech-language pathologist. A child's pediatrician can provide a recommendation or offer a speech sound development chart.


What Is the Speech Sound Development Chart?

This chart was designed to serve as a functional screening of development skills by age group. The Speech Sound Development Chart can be found here.



refers to sounds made with no voice are replaced with voiced sounds.

(Example “car” becomes “gar.”)


is where sounds made with a long airflow are replaced by sounds made with a stopped airflow

(example: “shoe” becomes to.”)

Final consonant deletion 

refers to the ends of words are left out.

 (Example: “tap” becomes “ta”)

Velar fronting

is where sounds are made with the tongue hitting the back of the mouth are replaced with sounds made at the front of the mouth.

(Example: “car” becomes “tar.”)

Palatal fronting

is where the tongue is moved forward in the mouth, so the “sh” sound becomes an “ss” sound.

Weak syllable deletion

is when non-stressed syllables are deleted from words.

(Example: “elephant becomes “elephant”.)


is the pronunciation of the whole word is influenced by the presence of a particular sound in the word. 

(Example: “dog” becomes “gog.”)

Consonant cluster reduction

refers to clusters of consonants in words are reduced by one or more consonants. 

(Example: “brick” becomes “bick.”)


 is where the affricate sounds (“sh,” “ch,” and “j”) are replaced with fricative sounds (“ss” or “z”) or even “t” and “d” sounds.


is when the “l” and “r” sounds a replaced with “w” or “y” sounds.

Additionally, the voiceless “th” sound (as in thanks) is replaced with a “f” sound, and the voiced “th” sound (as in “with”) is replaced with a “v” sound.

The Speech Sound Development Chart

sound development chart

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Even at the early ages of one to two years old, there are some common errors in pronunciation that can give a speech impairment like stuttering away in its early stages of development. This is the best time to intervene. There is a higher success rate of the stutter going away and a lower chance of the child developing social anxieties from not being understood.

While there are no common errors in a baby’s voice that could detect the chance of developing a stutter. By the age of six to twelve months, your baby should start to babble and repeat sounds. If this milestone is not achieved, it can affect social interaction with parents, and the child’s ability to sequence sounds together. Even though your baby may not be forming words yet, “cooing” is the first stages of developing oral muscle tone in the tongue, cheeks, and lips.

Between one and two years old, your child should be able to pronounce the following letters: p, b, m, n, t, d. If this is not achieved, it can lead to difficulties being understood by others and therefore cause frustration. It can also affect fluency and clarity of speech. Common errors during this stage of development include: voicing, stopping, final consonant deletion, velar fronting, palatal fronting, weak syllable deletion, assimilation, consonant cluster reduction, de-affrication, gliding, along with a voiceless ‘th’ and voiced 'th' stutters.

During two to three years of age, most children have learned the following sounds: p, b, m, n, t, d. By this age, children can have difficulties with socialization because of their stutter and difficulty being understood by others, especially if it affects their fluency and clarity of speech. It can also affect expressing language and verbal grammar when sounds are missing at the end of words. However, they're still at such a young age that their speech may be unclear to adults who don't know the child well. Some common errors include weak syllable deletion, assimilation, consonant cluster reduction, de-affrication, gliding, along with issues pronouncing the voiced and voiceless “th” sounds.

From ages four to five years of age most children develop the capability to pronounce more sounds, with the addition of: “k,” “g,” “f,” “s,” “y,” “h,' “sh,” “ch,” “j,” “z,” “l,” and “v.” Common issues with pronunciation at this age are often de-affrication, gliding, and the “th” sounds.
Children ages five to six years old should be capable to mostly clear and easy to understand speech. However, sometimes immaturities may still be noticed, like with “r,” “l,” and “th” sounds. By the age of eight years old, most children should be able to say all of the speech sounds in words with no noticeable errors.


How Does the Speech Sound Development Chart Effect Stuttering?

mother showing a card to her child

Difficulties with socialization due to lack of fluency and clarity of speech can lead to anxiety. Additionally, stuttering can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying condition that should be diagnosed. Children with s stutter can have difficulties with spelling due to articulation problems.

This chart was compiled over many years from a variety of sources. The information was then further shaped by years of clinical practice as well as therapeutic consultation with child care, kindergarten and school teachers about the development skills necessary for children to meet the demands of these educational environments.

It is important to look in depth and determine the child’s strengths and weaknesses in all areas of communication, including play and interaction skills, attention and listening, understanding words and language, using words and language, social communication, pronunciation and talking. Working together with the child to reduce anxiety and stress which may be associated with the stutter.


There are no instant miracle cures for stuttering. Therapy, electronic devices, and even drugs are not an overnight process. However, a specialist in stuttering can help not only children but also teenagers, young adults, and even older adults make significant progress toward fluency with the speech sound development chart.

If your child stutters, give them space and time to formulate what they want to say but don't tell them that. The body can become physically tense when a person stutters. Instead of concentrating on every word, you can compliment your child when they say something fluently. Along with building vocabulary, grammar skills, it is important for children to develop vocal skills so they can communicate clearly and effectively throughout their lives.

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