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Articulation and Phonology

Articulation Delay/Disorder: Articulation refers to the way we produce speech sounds. An articulation delay or disorder occurs when a child has difficulty producing sounds correctly due to immature or incorrect placement or movement of the lips, tongue, or other parts of the mouth. This can result in speech that is difficult to understand.

Phonological Delay/Disorder: Phonology refers to the rules that govern how sounds are organized and used in language. A phonological delay or disorder occurs when a child has difficulty understanding or using these rules, leading to patterns of sound errors that affect their speech intelligibility.

Differences Between Articulation and Phonological Difficulties: 

  • Articulation issues involve difficulty with specific speech sounds, such as substituting one sound for another (e.g., saying "wabbit" instead of "rabbit").

  • Phonological issues involve patterns of errors that affect multiple sounds or sound classes (e.g., substituting all sounds made in the back of the mouth, like "k" and "g," with sounds made in the front of the mouth, like "t" and "d").


Signs of Articulation or Phonological Difficulties: 

  • Difficulty being understood by unfamiliar listeners

  • Persistent errors in speech sounds beyond a certain age (e.g., substituting sounds, omitting sounds)

  • Difficulty coordinating the movements needed for clear speech

  • Frustration or avoidance of certain words or sounds


Intervention: Speech-language therapy is the primary intervention for both articulation and phonological issues. A speech-language pathologist (SLP) will assess your child's speech sound production and develop a therapy plan to target specific sounds or patterns of errors. Therapy may involve activities to practice correct sound production, as well as strategies to help your child carry over these skills into everyday communication.

Conclusion: It's important to seek help from a qualified SLP if you suspect your child has an articulation or phonological delay/disorder. Early intervention can improve your child's speech intelligibility and overall communication skills, leading to greater success in school and social interactions.

Click here for more information about speech sound disorders

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