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Articulation Vs. Phonological Speech Errors


Speech sound disorders

As children learn to speak, most make errors in speech sound production. Certain errors are considered part of typical speech development. Individual sounds should be mastered by a certain age – the age depends on the sound. A speech disorder occurs when a speech sound error continues past the age range in which it should have been mastered. Speech sound disorders are classified in two ways: articulation disorders and phonological disorders.

An articulation disorder occurs when a child has difficulty producing a sound. Error types may include sound omissions, distortions, substitutions or additions. It may also manifest as difficulty sequencing the sounds.

Articulation impairments may be functional or organic in cause. Functional articulation disorders occur in the absence of any obvious cause and are related to deficiencies in the relatively peripheral motor processes (Bauman-Waengler, 2000). Articulation errors may also be a result of physical or organic causes. Examples of such causes include: cleft palate, hearing impairment, cerebral palsy.

A phonological disorder is where a child has difficulty with a specific pattern or rule of speech sound production. For example, a child may substitute 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”). It is an error in the organisation of phonemes and/or their application in speech. A child may be able to say a sound correctly in isolation but not use it in the appropriate context within a word.

Most children will use phonological processes as they master their speech. A phonological disorder occurs when there are errors not usually seen in speech development or there is a delay in the elimination of phonological processes from speech.

If you have concerns about your child’s speech, a speech pathologist is qualified to assess and manage possible speech difficulties – progress and improvement is always possible!

Results focused speech therapy in Sydney

This article was written by our speech pathologist, Jenna Butterworth, who is a Speech Pathology Australia member.

If you have questions about difficulties with speech, contact your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a speech pathologist.

Contact us today!