Children’s Articulation Disorders

Articulatory-Phonological Disorders

The term “Articulation Disorders” refers to difficulties associated with the production of speech sounds (phonemes) that persist after these phonemes are normally acquired. The cause of an Articulation Disorder is a malfunction in the speech production mechanism and, by extension, an inability to produce phonemes using the areas needed for articulation (lips, tongue, teeth, jaw, palate). In Articulation Disorders, the child chooses the correct phoneme, but pronounces it incorrectly due to a deficiency in the articulation mechanism. Articulatory errors are observed during the production of the individual sounds, which continue to occur after the age when these errors have usually been corrected. Frequent articulatory errors are the production of the phoneme /p/ as /l/, as well as the phoneme /s/ as /th/.

“Phonological Disorders” are a category of disorders in which an older child usesa phonological a system of sounds similar to that used by younger children. That is to say, a whole group of sounds has not been mastered correctly and therefore many sounds are pronounced incorrectly, at an age when this would not be expected. Phonological Disorder is associated with difficulty in producing the sounds when used within a word, but pronouncing these sounds correctly when used individually. The child chooses the wrong phoneme which is due to incorrect mental organization of the phonemes. For example, a child may be able to produce the phoneme /s/ correctly in isolation, but the word /sock/ is produced as /thock/.

The main difference between the two disorders is that articulatory disorders concern the child’s ability to know how to correctly position the articulators (tongue, lips, etc.) to create the sound, while phonological disorders relate to the child’s perception of sound.

Various weighted and unweighted assessment tests are used to detect articulation and phonological difficulties. In therapy, we use tools which help with the precise movements needed to produce sounds and oral motor exercises which help to control articulation.