4 1/2 year old speech abilities

Minnie - posted on 12/18/2010 ( 13 moms have responded )




Probably for a year now we've been on Evelyn to ask properly for things. It's been a year of repeating the way she should phrase her questions. But we are not. getting. anywhere.

My just turned two year old will say "can I have some juice, please? Or "can I nurse, please? For whatever she wants.

My four year old? "Waa juice." "Happen the juice." "Happen the lettuce I hungry."

I want to pull my hair out. It frustrates me sooooo much. No one understands her. We try not responding to her when she talks like this and it is ALL THE TIME- in the hopes she will get the picture that she is not understandable when she doesn't phrase things the right way.

I have no clue what age-appropriate speech is here...but it is really getting under our skin... I don't like being frustrated at her, I don't want to be mean or impatient. It's so hard not to compare Evelyn to Adelaide. Is Adelaide just very precocious with her speech? She forms full correct sentences and will carry on a conversation. Evelyn's speech is broken and spotty.

If we wait for her to rephrase her requests she just gets angry and cries. Is it because she doesn't understand? I don't want to be doing something that is pointless because she isn't capable. She does like to test limits- she is a very intense child.

It's been a year of rephrasing things or "can you try again?" And she asks then...but it is consistently "can...I...have-a....some lettuce....." Always.

Suggestions? Insight?

Yes, yes, I know I used the word 'can' instead of 'may', lol. It's just who we are.


Christy - posted on 01/02/2011




One of my four year old twins has difficulty with some of the issues you are describing. He sees a speech therapist now. We thought his speech was great, very easy to understand. It is his comprehension that they are concerned about. He doesn't understand the W questions at all. He can't answer or ask simple questions, like Who is your sister? Even though he can make his needs known, he struggles to interact and ask for things appropriately. He has just started working with speech in the classroom, we hope to learn some new skills soon......would love to hear updates.

Brenda - posted on 12/27/2010




I'd suggest calling a speech pathologist in your area and seeing if they'll do a cosultation. I thought Nathan's stuttering was an issue but was told by the speech pathologist that it was a phase that he'd pass through and it wasn't something to worry about yet.

AFA the phrasing of questions...I'm not sure.

Geralyn: the language development class was on pure language, not human development. So it was in the sense of correcting children passively isn't going to change things, therapy would be different and targeted in a case of language delay. Repeated correction of a normal child doesn't have the desires effect.

Brenda - posted on 12/20/2010




I will note from a developmental standpoint, speech is NO indication of intellectual ability. If I remember right, as long as she can communicate with you, she should be fine. And actually, correcting them has no effect. I took a class on language development back when I was going to be an English teacher, and that was one of the things that she emphasized, that trying to correct language in a child is ineffective and is actually detrimental. As long as you model proper language, she will start to use it. As odd as it sounds, with Nathan and the refridgerlator thing, i just kept saying the word correctly and ignoring the fact he was using it wrong. Its actually a thing in the brain that triggers language skills, and she may be more than capable of using it correctly, she just isn't there yet. :)

Brenda - posted on 12/18/2010




Well, I'll give you incite into the two kids I've been around which are four. One of them his mom is always having to interpret for him, but he seems to have an ok vocabulary. The other talks a lot like you are describing, and OMG can he whine and cry about everything.

My 5 1/2 year old still has some things he says odd, but finally started saying refrigerator instead of refrigerlator.

Honestly, your two year old is quite advanced in speech. It is like with Nathan and his reading. I was so used to seeing the way he did it, when I saw other kids I thought there was something wrong with them.




Maybe some of these will help.


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Minnie - posted on 05/15/2011




Man, my thread got resurrected! Thanks all for the responses. Evelyn is now five and did superbly on her kindergarten screening last month. Her speech did not appear to be an issue.

I often wonder, and think that this may be one thing- is that her mind works sooooooo fast she's eighteen steps ahead of her mouth always- and she's often thinking and talking about multiple ideas while carrying on another train of thought in the conversation. LOL.

Ally - posted on 05/14/2011




Lisa, it sounds like you're getting a range of experiences to chew on here. All of which can be helpful, frustrating, or further confusing as you attempt to evaluate your own child! Breathe deeply.

My daughter is about to turn 3, so I can't speak as far as language for a typical 4. I can offer you my experience as a teacher for 10 years, though, which was that you have nothing to lose by having an evaluation. It's scary to imagine that you are "testing" your child, but what you are trying to do is determine whether your fears have a basis or they are unfounded. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt! Something is making you worry, you owe it to yourself to look into it and put it to rest one way or another.

Your public school district is a great resource. They will screen and evaluate your child, most likely for inclusion in a preschool program that incorporates speech or other services within the classroom. The programs are usually outstanding, as they follow the curriculum model of the elementary school, and give kids that boost they need.

From my experience hearing from parents, finding out about a difficulty is the scariest part. Putting your fears to rest is a relief. I have not experienced this as a parent, so I'm only relating what I observed. Most parents felt such relief at having someone confirm what they saw or tell them it was developmentally appropriate, the whole screening experience came out on a positive note, even if it started less positively.

Kids who get help sooner definitely benefit. If they need the help, let them overcome the delay or difficulty as much as possible before it affects their self-esteem in school, their confidence about their abilities, and their awareness of their "differences" from their peers.

You are aware of the differences between your two children. It may not be long before your child is aware of their differences from the way others speak. The benefit of catching something early, if there is anything to catch! is the ability to help a child learn coping strategies to maximize their potential.

Best of luck to you. You are in a difficult spot right now! I'm sure everyone's advice seems overwhelming. Take some time to sort through it and see where you land. From my heart I urge you to talk to the schools, though, I can't help but believe they will help you to feel better about the whole thing! In another year, you'd be revisiting the topic when your daughter goes to kindergarten, no?

Good luck. My heart is rooting for you! And whatever you are comfortable doing or not doing at this point in time.

Tiffany - posted on 05/14/2011




well my 4 yr old has speech problems he ened up being tongue tied and need to have his tongue clipped!! and I also had to get him tested I called children's healthcare and it has been working great!! and they told me to call my public schools and now he will go to special needs pre school at one of our public school! he got in bc of his speech and his articulation was very low! and will be reciving speech also! but I would first start by calling your public scools system and ask for her to be tested! it's the best way to go!!

Aleks - posted on 01/05/2011




I agree with April... sounds like some hearing difficulties or the processing of ...
I would look in getting her tested and visiting a speech pathologist regarding the processing difficulties.
Good luck.

Minnie - posted on 12/20/2010




Thanks ladies. I'm processing all of your comments, things have just been busy here. Evelyn is a very intelligent little girl, and her reading, writing and numbers appear fine to me. It's mostly how she asks questions...

One thing that concerns me as well is that the 'why' stage she has begun is a bit strange...she never asks 'why' something is the way it is, but we have learned to interpret that she is asking why: she says "what are you doing (insert what we are doing)"

For example, if she sees me cooking dinner she'll say "what are you doing cooking dinner?"

It's all a bit odd.

Sometimes I worry and wonder if the CIO we did with her as an infant damaged something within her. It was bad, significant CIO. My mother is quick to smooth things over and insist that I didn't (despite how against CIO she is) but when the possibility is there, one has to own up to it...

Geralyn - posted on 12/20/2010




There is a real question - whether there is simply a language delay or whether there is a language disorder, and by the latter I mean that you can model til the cows come home, but there is an issue that requires direct 1:1 speech-language therapy by a highly qualified speech-language therapist. The problem I have with the advice you were given, Brenda - and you didn't say whether she was a speech-langauge therapist (I hope not) - is that if it is the latter, a language disorder, then it needs immediate attention. The window for developing language is birth to 7 years. That is NOT to say that you cannot make a difference after 7 but I am a huge advocate for early intervention during those critical years. While I agree that language is not an indicator of intellectual ability, significant language issues do impact cognition (reflected be depressed IQ scores on the verbal subtests). Lisa, if it were my daughter, I would have her assessed by a top speech-language therapist. It could be hearing issues (has she passed a hearing test? it could even be fluctuating...), or it could be apraxia typically shown by unintelligibility, limited vocabulary, difficulty with phonemic awareness (sounds of letters, blends, etc..). I am not a wait and see if it kicks in kinda person. I have seen too many children whose families followed that philosphy only to end up with diagnoses that had they gotten the diagnoses sooner could have remediated the issue through therapy before it impacts learning, communication, social development, etc... Many times a specific learning disability has a language base to it, so it can affect reading and writing when the children are school aged. You would want it remediated as quickly as possible before she needs the language base to learn letters, sounds, numbers, reading, writing, etc....

Tameka - posted on 12/18/2010




I feel your frustrations! My four year old gets like that some times. There are two reasons why she does this: her best friend at preschool is 6 months younger than her and deliberately talks like a baby and Charlie mimics her. My youngest is almost one so therefore her speech is very limited and, again, Charlie mimics her.

I just give her the: "Sweetheart, I can't understand you so I can't give you what you want. Talk properly or go without." After careful consideration Charlie decides to talk properly in order to get what she wants. I, too, am constantly droning on about proper speech and good manners. I really should record my voice and have it playing on the stereo round the clock as background noise!!

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