Speech Sounds – Pronunciation

Speech sound development can be variable in all children. Making clear speech sounds is often a challenge for children with Down syndrome. The cause of speech difficulties may be related to a number of areas including hearing, working memory, learning needs, coordination of speech related muscles, and oral-motor difficulties.

You can support speech sound development from an early age. Here are some general tips, ideas and listening games which you may find helpful!


General Tips for Everyday

  • Repeat back your child’s words using the correct sounds, e.g., Child says “a dock” adult repeats, “Yes it’s a sock, it’s a yellow sock, it’s a small s


  • Draw your child’s attention to the sound, by placing and emphasis on it, g., “Yes a ssssock”


  • Try to avoid over-correcting your child or asking them to repeat the word correctly during conversation.

Listening Games

Listening games are an excellent way to support speech sound development, as the adult is doing the talking, the pressure is taken off the child to use the new sound. Get down on your child’s level, so you are face to face with your child during these games. This gives your child a chance to look at how your mouth makes each sound.

Nursery rhymes and poems are great listening activities. For example, “Hickory Dickory Dock” for “K” and “Six Sizzling Sausages” for “S.”


Collect Items

Collect items beginning with the word your child is finding tricky and put them in a bag. For example, for the “s” sound, you could use a sock, a snake, and a star. Or if your child is interested in pictures, you could use these instead. This website has great free pictures for all different sounds: Mommy Speech Therapy

Game Ideas

Here are some ideas for playing with your objects/pictures:

‘What’s in the bag?’ Song

Put all the items in a bag and sing a “What’s in the bag?” song.  Here is the song:

Shake, shake, shake, what’s in the bag?

Shake, shake, shake, what’s in the bag?

Shake, shake, shake, what’s in the bag?

What’s in the bag today?

Then say to your child ‘Will we open the bag?’ and wait to see/hear their cue.

Let the child take the items out of the bag one by one and name them.


Post Box Game

Make a post box using an old shoe box, using a character from your child’s favourite book/tv programme. Cut a hole for the mouth. Name each item, and then pretend to “feed” the box.



Treasure Hunt

Hide the objects around the room, and go on a treasure hunt to find them. When you find it, name the item a few times for your child to hear, e.g., “Oh look, you found a sock,” “Oh no, it’s a smelly sock.”


Stepping Stone Game

Spread some pictures out on the floor. The child must get to the other side of the room by stepping over the pictures and naming them

By Gráinne Murphy



Gráinne Murphy is a Speech & Language Therapist at The Down Syndrome Centre.  Gráinne graduated from Trinity College Dublin and has worked in London with the NHS, helping children with a range of speech, language and communication needs. She is experienced in using a range of evidence based therapeutic approaches, including Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, Colourful Semantics & Lámh.


If you are interested in making an appointment for your child with Gráinne, please contact the centre on info@downsyndromecentre.ie or phone (01) 661 8000


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