How children first learn sound and words

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How children first learn sound and words

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Children learn to talk by listening and practicing what they hear. An infant´s first communication is their crying. This is quickly followed by them babbling and cooing. Children learn speech from front to back. So they first start with their bilabials, which are the two lips together. That is what bilabial mean. So the p, b and m are bilabial sounds. That is why mama, papa and baba are often frequently the first words a child might say. Then comes the lingualdental or tongue tip sounds. That is the t, d, n, and l sounds. They are a little bit more obscure but still reachable for a child to see. Then comes the back sounds, the k and the g sounds. Those are invisible. So if a child has an auditory discrimination issue at all or they are just not developed in that area yet, they may say things like mommy, I want a tootsie instead of cookie or I want to to for a ride in the tar instead of I want to go for a ride in the car. They have substituted the k and the g sound for the t and the d sound. The next group of sounds are called friction sounds, and they include the f and the v, th, sh, ch and j and the s and the z sound. And they are difficult to produce and generally develop a little bit later in a child´s life. The last sound is the vocalic r sound. Vocalic r meaning the r that is influenced by the vowel in front of it. So words like horse, mirror, girl, world, four. Those are all very difficult and require the coordination of all of the articulators together. Generally speaking, the s, the l and that pesky r are the three most misarticulated sounds and their corresponding blends.

See Barbara Schacter, LCSW's video on How children first learn sound and words...

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Barbara Schacter, LCSW

Speech-Language Pathologist

Barbara was raised in New England, then attended The George Washington University for both undergraduate and graduate school.  She began as a dance major, but soon realized that she might have had a colorful, but short career and she was looking for a profession that would inspire and challenge her for many years.  As luck would have it, G.W.U. had an excellent speech pathology and audiology department. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree, the university offered her a fellowship for graduate school with an internship associated with not only their speech and hearing clinic, but with the George Washington University Hospital, as well. 

After graduate school, she secured a position in a private school for children with language and learning disabilities.  She followed that with a 10-year stint at a residential children's psychiatric center.  Longing to work with a more varied population, she then worked in a public school in New Jersey.  There, she developed and taught a language enrichment program for all kindergartners in the district and provided speech and language therapy for the two special education classes, as well as serving those students from kindergarten to sixth grade having articulation, fluency, voice, cleft palate, hearing impairment and language delays.  In 1992, she moved to Los Angeles and was hired by Saint John's Health Center to participate as a member on their cleft palate team as well as providing pediatric and geriatric out-patient speech and language services.  Several years later, she opened a private practice in Pacific Palisades, CA, which continues to this day.  She is delighted to say that she still gets a thrill out of the work she does...and that is such a gift!

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