a child learning how to pronounce the shh sound

Teaching ‘Sh’ Words with Speech Therapy

As children grow and develop their speech and language skills, it is normal and common for them to struggle to produce some letter sounds or combinations of letter sounds. One of the most common sounds that children may struggle with is the ‘sh’ sound. Many children are able to say the “sh” sound independently but struggle to use it within a word combined with other sounds. There are lots of different fun ways to help your child learn to make the ‘sh’ sound and support their speech and language development at home. Seeking the support and guidance of an experienced speech and language pathologist is a great idea for any child, even those who are developing as they should. If you want to connect with a speech therapist to learn more about how they can help your child, schedule your free introductory call now!

When Should a Child Have the ‘Sh’ Sound?

Most children are able to produce this sound sometime between the ages of 3 and 7. The age at which a child can speak ‘sh’ and ‘sh’ words depend on several factors. If a child is struggling with other speech sound errors or speech delays, they may be more likely to struggle with the ‘sh’ sound. 

What Kind of Errors do Children Usually Make When Saying ‘Sh’ Words?

  • ‘Sh’ is replaced with ‘Ch’ or ‘T’ (tip instead of ship)
  • ‘Sh’ is avoided or left out altogether
  • ‘Sh’ is spoken but is distorted 
  • ‘Sh’ can be spoken but becomes distorted on a sentence level

How Do I Teach ‘Sh’ Speech Therapy? How Do I Teach ‘Sh’ Isolation?

There are a few strategies that might go into helping a child with their ‘sh’ sound production. It is important to start by teaching the ‘sh’ sound in isolation before moving on to teach ‘sh’ words and sound combinations. 

Phonetic Placement

Phonetic placement refers to the correct placement of the tongue, lips, and jaw in order to produce a particular sound. This is usually the best place to start when addressing a speech sound error or deficit. To make the ‘sh’ sound you must put the teeth together and bring the corners of your lips towards the center, puckering the lips like a kiss. The middle of the tongue comes up very slightly and lightly touches the inner corners of the top teeth but does not touch the roof of the mouth. A registered speech and language pathologist can help teach the proper placement and correct articulation strategies. Get support for your child by scheduling your free introductory call today.

Use Visual and Audio Clues

There are lots of different games and activities that can be used to help your child learn the ‘sh’ sound. A speech therapist is a great resource for these types of tools, and they know how to work with a child in a way that brings fun and novelty so that a child doesn’t even know they are working and learning. You, or your child’s speech therapist, may also use your hands and mouth to demonstrate the correct placement of the lips, teeth, and tongue when working to produce a particular sound. When looking at speech problems related to articulation, it is important to have the child’s hearing tested to rule out the possibility that their challenges or deficiencies may be caused by hearing loss

It is also important to ask the child if they can hear the difference between the sound or word when it is said correctly or incorrectly. Making sure they understand the target sound is a foundational step. 

Progressing into Using ‘Sh’ in Syllables, Words, and Sentences

Once the child has mastered the ability to produce the ‘sh’ sound independently and in isolation, you can move on to working on combining it with other sounds. It is important to practice the ‘sh’ sound at the beginning, middle, and end of words. Just because they may have mastered using ‘sh’ at the start of a word, using it in the middle or at the end may require some more practice. 

Conversation and Fluency

Once they have mastered producing the ‘sh’ sound on its own and then within syllables and words, the next step is to practice working ‘sh’ words into conversation and everyday speech. Building confidence around these new skills and encouraging the child to use them and master them is the final step towards using ‘sh’ words masterfully in every situation. 

How Can Online Speech Therapy Help? 

Speech therapists are experts in helping with problems related to speech sound production. They specialize in articulation therapy and the treatment of articulation disorders. Articulation disorders are defined as difficulty producing any single sound or combination of sounds or the consistent mispronunciation of particular sounds or sound combinations. Treatment of these disorders is typically very successful, with early intervention providing a better outcome in most cases. 

A speech therapist will help by Identifying error versus proper production of sounds and targeting error sounds with increasingly challenging levels of articulation. They will also help by working on producing sound(s) in the traditional hierarchy (isolation, syllables, all word positions,  phrases, sentences, conversation) and reinforcing and maintaining self-correcting speech skills. If you or your child is struggling with producing a ‘sh’ sound or another articulation disorder, there is help available. The sooner you seek the support of an experienced speech and language pathologist, the sooner you or your child will be on your way to speaking clearly and with confidence. And now, with speech therapy available online through Great Speech, it is easier and more convenient than ever to get the help you or your loved one needs. Don’t delay, connect with us by scheduling your free introductory call today! 

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