Articulation & Phonology Disorders

Learning to speak is an amazing process.  There are sure to be bumps in the road.  Every child will make mistakes when pronouncing new words.  How can you tell if your child has a speech sound disorder or if he or she is developing normally?  Here at First Choice Physical Therapy our trained speech pathologists are able to give a variety of assessments to determine if your child is making age-appropriate sound errors or if they may need intervention.

Typically speech sound disorders are broken into two categories:  articulation (making sounds) and phonology (sound patterns).

According to ASHA “an articulation disorder involves problems making sounds. Sounds can be substituted, left off, added or changed. These errors may make it hard for people to understand you. Young children often make speech errors. For instance, many young children sound like they are making a “w” sound for an “r” sound (e.g., “wabbit” for “rabbit”) or may leave sounds out of words, such as “nana” for “banana.” The child may have an articulation disorder if these errors continue past the expected age. Not all sound substitutions and omissions are speech errors. Instead, they may be related to a feature of a dialect or accent. For example, speakers of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) may use a “d” sound for a “th” sound (e.g., “dis” for “this”). This is not a speech sound disorder, but rather one of the phonological features of AAVE. To see the age range during which most children develop each sound, visit Talking Child’s speech chart.”

“A phonological process disorder involves patterns of sound errors. For example, substituting all sounds made in the back of the mouth like “k” and “g” for those in the front of the mouth like “t” and “d” (e.g., saying “tup” for “cup” or “das” for “gas”). Another rule of speech is that some words start with two consonants, such as broken or spoon. When children don’t follow this rule and say only one of the sounds (“boken” for broken or “poon” for spoon), it is more difficult for the listener to understand the child. While it is common for young children learning speech to leave one of the sounds out of the word, it is not expected as a child gets older. If a child continues to demonstrate such cluster reduction, he or she may have a phonological process disorder.”  ASHA, 2014.


You can also view the Articulation Norms Chart or the Phonology Norms Chart to help you determine disorder vs. typical development. As always, contact your trusted speech language pathologists at First Choice Physical Therapy if you have any concerns regarding your child’s speech.