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Speech and Intelligibility


All this month in our blogs, we’re talking about speech sound disorders. One of the words you’ll hear a lot when talking about speech is ‘intelligible’. Intelligibility is how clear and comprehensible a person’s speech is. If a child is 100% intelligible, that means that everyone can understand everything they say. If you find you have to focus hard on what your child is saying to understand them, they are less intelligible. If you are relying on gestures and pointing to figure out what your child is saying, their speech could be described as highly unintelligible.

It is typical for young children, especially toddlers, to be highly unintelligible. We often think of them as having their own little language and parents are the translator! There can be a large difference between how intelligible a child is to their parents and how intelligible they are to teachers and unfamiliar listeners.

As children develop, their speech should become more and more intelligible, to their parents AND outsiders. As a rule of thumb, 3 year olds should be understood by unfamiliar people around 75% of the time. 4 to 5 year olds should be 100% intelligible in conversation, even if they have a few errors in speech, these should not make them overly difficult to understand.

That’s why it’s worth getting an outsider’s perspective if you are concerned about the clarity of your child’s speech. As parents we get better and better at interpreting for our little ones, and sometimes don’t realise how difficult it is for others to understand our child. Make an appointment with Newcastle Speech Pathology today if you are concerned about the intelligibility of your child’s speech.

Written by Bec,


Newcastle Speech Pathology

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