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Phonological Disorders

What is a Phonological Disorder?

A phonological disorder is when a child uses a specific error pattern in his or her speech. These specific error patterns are referred to as phonological processes. It is appropriate for children to use specific phonological processes in the early years. However, these error patterns are expected to disappear at certain ages. If these error patterns are still present past the stages of typical elimination then skilled speech-language therapy is recommended. These speech patterns will make it difficult for familiar and unfamiliar listeners to understand your child’s intended message.  


Our Boca Raton Speech Therapist Can Help!

What are the Types of Phonological Processes?

Below are several of the more common processes that children will use when attempting to produce adult like speech.


  • Final Consonant Deletion: When a final consonant in a word is omitted such as “ca”  for “cat”

  • Initial Consonant Deletion: When a initial consonant in a word is omitted such as “at” for “hat”,

  • Cluster Reduction: When a consonant cluster is reduced to a single consonant such as “pane” for plane”.

  • Stopping: When a fricative sound (like /f/ or /s/) or affricate (/ch/, /dg/) is substituted with a stop consonant like /p/ or /d/ such as “dun” for “sun” or “pour” for “four”.

  • Fronting: When velar or palatal sounds, like /k/, /g/, and /sh/ are substituted with alveolar sounds like /t/, /d/, and /s/ such as “tar” for “car”.

  • Backing: When alveolar sounds, like /t/ and /d/,  are substituted with velar sounds like /k/ and /g/ such as “gog” for “dog”.

  • Gliding: When /r/ becomes a /w/, and /l/ becomes a /w/ or /y/ sound such as “wabbit” for “rabbit”.


What are the Causes of Phonological Disorders?

Some causes of phonological disorders include hearing loss, developmental disorders (i.e. autism), neurological disorders (i.e. cerebral palsy) or genetic disorders (i.e.  Down syndrome).

What is the Treatment for Phonological Disorders?

An evaluation by a speech-language pathologist is necessary to determine if your child’s misarticulations are from a phonological disorder and what phonological processes are present. Successful treatment for phonological disorders focuses on increasing a child’s awareness of their speech errors and practicing correct production of sounds to form correct speech sound patterns.

Our South Florida Pediatric Speech Therapists treat pediatric phonological disorders.

If you would like to schedule your child for an evaluation please contact us here.

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