What is an Articulation Disorder?
An articulation disorder is when an individual has difficulty properly pronouncing consonant and/or vowel sounds during speech production. Sounds that are spoken can be substituted, changed, added, or deleted. These types of errors can make it difficult to understand your child’s wants, needs and opinions. The term “unintelligible speech” is used to describe when a child’s speech is difficult to understand by both familiar and unfamiliar listeners.
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Does My Child Have an Articulation Disorder?
Children naturally develop misarticulations along their early developmental stages. From ages 1 to 5 this may be a natural way in learning how to speak. However, if these patterns in speech continue beyond the normal age of development, a speech- language evaluation is vital. If you begin to notice your child’s speech being misinterpreted by both familiar and unfamiliar listeners or notice your child growing frustrated and/ or avoiding communicating– your child may be struggling with an articulation disorder.
Below are red flags that may determine if your child has an articulation disorder:
Omissions – Omissions are when you leave out essential sounds from a word. For example: saying /tree/ instead of /three/.
Substitutions – Substitutions are when you replace sounds with similar but incorrect sounds. For example: saying /kith/ instead of /kiss/.
Distortions – Distortions are when a child uses a non-typical sound for a typically developing sound. For example, a noisy or slushy quality to the /s/ sound.
Additions – Additions are adding an unnecessary sound to an appropriately pronounced word. For example: saying /buhlue/ instead of /blue/.
What Causes Articulation Disorders?
There are many causes and contributions to an articulation disorder in children. These include oral structural deviations or weakness in oral musculature, hearing loss, or developmental disorders. In addition, there may be a neurological component involved such as with cerebral palsy, or genetic disorders such as Down syndrome that may also be a major contributor in your child’s articulation challenges.
What is the Treatment for Articulation Disorders?
An evaluation by a speech-language pathologist is necessary to determine if your child’s misarticulations are from an articulation disorder. Treatment varies based on the findings from the evaluation but may include oral motor exercises, and practicing the target sound in isolation, single words, phrases, sentences and in conversation. The child needs to be taught to produce the sound correctly before the habit becomes permanent. Ultimately, the longer their misarticulation goes unaddressed the harder it is to correct.
Our South Florida Pediatric Speech Therapists treat articulation disorders.
If you would like to schedule your child for an evaluation please contact us Here.