At three years old, a speech problem can be adorable. However, there are many things that can start to happen to a child who cannot be understood by others, and they are far from cute. An outspoken child who is forced to repeat herself all the time can get frustrated. At some point, she may find it easier to simply keep her thoughts to herself.
I have also witnessed peers who make fun of a child for pronouncing words incorrectly, especially when their deficiency makes a word sound completely different. For example, the child couldn’t say his “r’s” so when he meant to say “heard” it came out as “hid.” Another, less sensitive child announced that what he said didn’t make any sense. That was embarrassing, even to a three year old.
When my own son was about four, we were told that he’d grow out of his speech deficiencies. Yet, my husband and I felt that he was a sponge at that point in his life, soaking up information everywhere he went. We thought that he would catch on quickly to speech therapy at a young age, and that we could nip the problem in the bud. Our instincts were right.
He had about nine months of speech therapy which he actually enjoyed. They played games during his sessions, and his homework involved blowing bubbles, whistles, and into straws. It was never a chore. He entered kindergarten speaking beautifully. In fourth grade, I noticed that one of his classmates was still struggling with certain sounds. That reaffirmed that our decision to get our son early intervention was the correct one.