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Speech Sound Disorders

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, most children make some mistakes as they learn to say new words. A speech sound disorder occurs when mistakes continue past a certain age. Every sound has a different range of ages when the child should make the sound correctly. Speech sound disorders include problems with articulation (making sounds) and phonological processes (sound patterns).

Articulation Disorders:

Articulation is how we produce or make speech sounds.  It is the process by which sounds, syllables, and words are formed when your tongue, jaw, teeth, lips, and palate alter the air stream coming from the vocal folds.

A child has an articulation problem or disorder when he or she produces sounds, syllables, or words incorrectly that should have been mastered by their age or when they have so many sound errors that the listener’s ability to understand that child is affected.  Most errors fall into one of three categories-omissions, substitutions, or distortions.  An example of an omission is “ca” for “cat” or “oo” for “shoe” or “pa-er” for “paper”.  An example of a substitution is the use of “w” for “r” which makes “rabbit” sound like “wabbit” or the substitution of “th” for “s” so that “sun” is pronounced “thun.” When the sound is said inaccurately, but sounds something like the intended sound, it is called a distortion.

Chart delineating the typical ages at which children are expected to master specific sounds.

Phonological Disorders:

Phonological disorders exist when there is a pattern of sound errors in the child’s speech based on phonological processes.  For example, “fronting” is one phonological process.  In this process the child substitutes sounds made in the front of the mouth for sounds made in the back, such as “t” for “k” and “d” for ‘g”.  Another phonological process would be backing where the child substitutes sounds made in the back of the mouth for sounds made in the front, such as “k” for “t” and “g” for ‘d”. 

A Listing of the various phonological processes :  

Signs of phonological disorders:

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