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Articulation Disorders: Understanding and Treating Speech Sound Errors

It is common for children to make errors in their speech as they grow and develop their communication skills. There are several different types of speech sound errors, and most children will eliminate these errors as they progress in their abilities. Some children, however, will continue to make these speech sound errors beyond the age at which most children have stopped. This can be an indication of an articulation disorder that, if left untreated, can continue into adulthood. The best course of treatment for articulation disorders for children and adults is through an experienced speech and language pathologist.

If you are concerned about the development of your child’s communication skills or you, yourself, struggle with speech as a teen or adult, you may benefit from speech therapy. Great Speech tackles all types of speech difficulties; get started with one of our amazing SLPs today by scheduling your free introductory call.

What are Speech Sound Errors?

Speech sound errors are errors that are often made during speech. There are many different forms of speech sound errors, including:

Omitting Beginning Sounds of Words
Adding Additional Sounds to Words
Inability to Produce Specific Speech Sounds
Swapping Sounds with Other Sounds

It is relatively common for children to exhibit speech sound errors at a young age, and most will grow out of them as they develop their speech and language skills. The majority of children have mastered the production of all speech sounds and no longer make errors by the age of 8. However, some children continue to have difficulty saying particular sounds and/or words beyond the expected age, which, if left untreated, may continue into their teenage years and even adulthood. In these cases, they may be diagnosed with a speech sound disorder.

Speech sound errors are categorized into these two types of disorders:

Articulation Disorder – An articulation disorder occurs when an individual has difficulties producing (or articulating) specific sounds. If the individual with an articulation disorder isn’t able to produce a particular sound, it is common for them to replace the sound with another; for example, they may say ‘wed’ instead of ‘red.’

Phonological Process Disorder – A phonological disorder occurs when an individual has difficulties relating to the organization of the sound patterns in the brain, which causes an inability to form the necessary sounds properly. An individual with a phonological process disorder may omit a sound in a word despite being able to produce the same sound in a different word. For instance, they might say ‘boo’ instead of ‘book’ but are able to correctly say words such as ‘key’ or ‘king.’

What Are Voicing Errors?

The majority of the sounds we produce come in a pair of voiced and voiceless sounds. Whether a specific sound is voiced or voiceless refers to whether the vocal cords vibrate or not when the sound is being produced. For instance, in the case of p and b sounds, b is voiced, and p is voiceless. This means that a voicing error occurs when a quiet sound is made noisily. For example, the word ‘pea’ is produced as ‘bee’ or ‘coat’ is produced as ‘goat.’ Voicing errors are less common than other speech sound errors.

What is a Phonemic Error?

A phonemic error occurs when an individual repeatedly produces a sound that is a properly formed phoneme (or speech sound) but is not the one that was intended by the speaker or expected by the listener. For example, they may say ‘smole’ instead of ‘smile.’

What Causes a Speech Sound Disorder?

The majority of speech sound disorders do not have a specific identifiable cause. However, there are some factors that can contribute to the development of a speech sound disorder, including:

Brain Injury
Developmental Disability
Hearing Impairment
Physical Differences that Affect Speech

What are the Symptoms of a Speech Sound Disorder?

Speech sound disorders can have a wide range of different symptoms that depend on the specific speech sound disorder the individual has. However, there are some signs and symptoms that you should look out for, including:

Frequently producing the same speech sound errors involving the same sounds or words
Not speaking as clearly or easily as others in the same age group
Omitting certain sounds from words
Adding certain sounds to words that don’t belong
Stuttering
Lisping
Simplifying words.
You or a loved one may be shy or quiet
You or a loved one may avoid speaking in front of others

If you are worried that you or someone you know may have a speech sound disorder, it is a good idea to seek the help and support of a speech and language pathologist. Getting started is as easy as scheduling your free introductory call today!

How is a Speech Sound Disorder Diagnosed?

A speech sound disorder is typically diagnosed by a qualified speech pathologist through the use of standardized tests to evaluate the child’s speech and language development.

The speech therapist will also listen to the individual’s speech and will determine whether they have a speech sound disorder. In most cases, they are able to identify the disorder due to the level of speech and language development when compared to others of the same age group..

Once you or your child has been diagnosed, a speech pathologist will be able to design a treatment plan and offer specific help and advice.

How Do You Fix Speech Sound Disorder?

A knowledgeable speech and language pathologist will work closely with you or your child with the goal of correcting speech sound errors. The speech therapist will create a unique treatment plan that focuses on the individual’s specific needs, challenges, goals, and speech and language development in general.

Speech therapy appointments will likely focus on the following:

Recognizing speech errors and correcting them
Learning how to properly articulate the specific sounds that are proving difficult
Practicing saying particular sounds and words

The speech and language pathologist will achieve this by targeting certain sounds one at a time by using activities and exercises to help you practice the specific sounds that you are struggling with.

When it comes to helping children, teens and adults with speech sound disorders, early intervention offers the best outcome. The sooner an individual is started with speech therapy, the better. Get started today by scheduling your free introductory call now!