When Vowels Typically Emerge
Vowels are typically the first sounds that emerge from our precious little ones and most often not a concern. Starting around 2 months babies begin to “coo” making sounds in the back of their mouth like “ah-ah-ah” and “oh-oh-oh.” By 6 months they have progressed to babbling which involves making sounds with the tongue and the front of the mouth like, “da-da-da-da” and “ma-ma-ma-ma.” At 10-12 months the anxiously awaited first real words will typically make their debut.
What if My Child Doesn’t Say Their Vowels?
But what happens when your child doesn’t follow this developmental sequence? What if your child never really babbled or cooed? What if your child has difficulty even producing the vowels, has very few words if any or is highly unintelligible? If this is the case there is likely something more going on and you should see a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) for a speech and language evaluation.
The Speech Pathologist will assess the child to see if they can determine the cause of the delay. Difficulty with the production of vowels may be due to a number of things, including hearing loss, a cognitive deficit, or a motor speech disorder like Apraxia or dysarthria. Knowing the cause of the delay will help the SLP as she works with the parents to create a treatment plan.
Teach the Early Vowels First (uh, ah, ee, oo and oh)
So if it is determined that your child produces only a few vowels, or is inconsistent with their vowel productions teaching vowel sounds is a good place to start.
To teach the vowel sounds start with the 5 earliest developing vowels uh, ah, ee, oo and oh. Modeling these vowels with hand cues is a great way to provide more visual feedback and help teach the vowels. I’ve linked a helpful video below of Pam Marshalla, an SLP and expert in motor speech disorders demonstrating the hand cues she uses to teach these vowels.
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