How Do We Talk?

bigstock_secrets_910281How Do We Talk?

by Kevin Stuckey, M.Ed., CCC-SLP

How Do We Produce Speech Sounds?

Talking is a form of communication most people use to express their thoughts and feelings. But, do you ever wonder HOW we make the words come out of our mouths? Speaking begins with a person’s thought and results in the formation of words and sentences to express that thought. The act of speaking occurs by air coming from the lungs, through the vocal folds, and out of the mouth. We shape sounds using our tongue (tip, blade, front, back), upper and lower lips, upper and lower teeth, and the roof of the mouth (alveolar ridge, palate, velum) in order to say specific sounds and words. Speech sounds differ by voice, place—where sounds are made in the mouth—and manner—the type of sound.
There are many parts of the body that help us produce speech. To speak, you use your stomach muscles, lungs, voice box, tongue, teeth, lips, and even your nose. Your brain coordinates it all. Speech actually starts in the stomach with the diaphragm. This is a large muscle that helps push air from the lungs into the voice box. The voice box or larynx has vocal cords that vibrate to produce your voice. Then, the lips, tongue, and teeth form the sounds to make speech. For example, the tip of the tongue touches just behind your top teeth to make a “d” sound. By moving the tongue, changing how much air comes out, and vibrating or not vibrating the vocal cords, you can make over 40 different speech sounds. Sometimes the sounds even come out through your nose. Try putting your finger on your nose and say “mmm.” You will feel your nose vibrate!
Many children experience difficulty when attempting to produce clear and understandable speech. When children struggle with the correct production of speech sounds, it makes it difficult for listeners to understand what they are saying. Speech sound production occurs on a developmental basis according to a child’s chronological age. Some children may acquire skills more quickly than others. Mawhinney and McTeague (2004) give the following chart:
90% of Children Have Mastered These Sounds…By Age
p, d, m, w, h, n 2 years old
t, b, k, g 3 years old
f, v, y 4-5 years old
s, z, j, l, r, sh, ch, th, blends 5-7 years old
If you notice non-developmental articulation errors in your child’s speech—or your child shows frustration because “No one understands what I’m saying!”—consult a local speech-language pathologist (SLP) for an articulation screening/evaluation of your child’s speech production. After reviewing the results of this assessment, the SLP may recommend speech therapy to address specific errors to improve the intelligibility of spontaneous speech.
If you are interested in setting up a speech evaluation, contact Speech Language Pathologist, Christine Wilson today!

Spring is Here!

girls talking.jpgReceptive Language

Blindfold the child or have them turn around. Pull something out of the bucket and describe it to the child. They have to guess the item.

Try to include as many senses as possible…what it looks like, smells like, feels like, and in some cases sounds and tastes like.

Pull out three of the items from the bucket and make up a short story using those items.

You can use the example story below if you have a packet of seeds, a shovel, and a bunny.

“Once upon a time there was a bunny. The bunny snuck into the farmer’s garden often and ate vegetables until he was stuffed.

One day he was hopping to the farmer’s garden when suddenly he saw a large fence. The fence went around the whole garden, and the bunny could not get in!

He was very sad because the farmer had the best carrots and cabbage and peas.

The bunny had an idea. He would plant his own garden! He grabbed a shovel and some seeds and he went to work.

He dug in the soil, planted the seeds, watered them every day, and made sure they had enough sunlight.

After a couple months of hard work, the bunny had a beautiful garden with all his favorite vegetables.

The bunny learned that hard work can be very rewarding!”

Following the story, ask these questions…

Yes/No Questions

  1. Was the bunny eating the farmer’s vegetables?
  2. Did the bunny feel hungry when he left the farmer’s garden?
  3. Did the farmer put a fence around his garden?
  4. Did the bunny plant flowers?
  5. Did the bunny’s seeds grow?

WH Questions

  1. What type of animal was in the story?
  2. Who did the bunny visit to get all his vegetables?
  3. What were the bunny’s favorite vegetables?
  4. Why did the bunny decide to grow his own vegetables?
  5. What type of things did the bunny do to plant his seeds and help them grow?

For ides about sequencing and categorizing, check out the link below!

The Differences Between Types of Aphasia

a·pha·sia (əˈfāzēə/) is defined as the loss of ability to understand or express speech. This is caused by brain damage in the left side of the brain.
There are eight types of aphasia and if you’re not a Speech Language Pathologist, such as Christine Wilson, they can be very confusing to differentiate between. There are three distinctive features that separate aphasias: fluency, comprehension, and repetition. The chart below can be used to identify the type of aphasia by its features.
  • Global Aphasia
  • Mixed Transcortical Aphasia
  • Broca’s Aphasia
  • Transcortical Motor Aphasia
  • Wernicke’s Aphasia
  • Transcortical Sensory Aphasia
  • Conduction Aphasia
  • Anomic Aphasia


The most common cause of aphasia is stroke (about 25-40% of stroke survivors acquire aphasia). It can also result from head injury, brain tumor or other neurological causes. While aphasia is most common among older people, it can occur in people of all ages, races, nationalities and gender. The effects and severity of  Aphasia depend on the site and amount of damage in the brain.