The process of learning a language is often difficult for children and commonly involves many small steps and frequent substitutions as a child works to master new letter sounds, sound combinations, and words. One example of this is when a young child begins to communicate their wants and needs; they may say ‘wawa’ when asking for water. In some cases, a child may develop a speech pattern that always involves the same substitutions without improvement. They may always replace a “g” sound with a “d” sound so that the word “go” always comes out as “doh.”
While it is normal for children to make these omissions and substitutions as they learn to speak and master specific speech sounds, it can be cause for concern if the child is not advancing or progressing as they grow. If you are concerned about your child’s speech development, it is important not to delay seeking help. Getting started with a speech therapist through Great Speech is as simple as scheduling your free introductory call today!
What Is Fronting in Speech?
Fronting is a term that refers to any sounds that should be produced at the back of the mouth, such as ‘g’, but they are made at the front of the mouth instead. In other words, fronting is a phonological disorder that results in children frequently and repeatedly producing specific letter sounds at the front of the mouth, making the sound incorrect. A child who is fronting may say the word “tea” when they are actually trying to say “key.”
Is Fronting a Speech Sound Disorder?
In the speech therapy world, fronting is known as a phonological process. Phonological disorders involve consistent and predictable, rule-based errors that typically affect more than one specific sound. It can often be difficult to clearly differentiate between phonological and articulation disorders. Because of this, it is common for speech therapists, as well as doctors and researchers, to use the broader term “speech sound disorder” when they refer to any speech errors that don’t have a known cause.
Types of Fronting
There are two primary types of fronting, which are known as velar fronting and palatal fronting.
Velar fronting refers to the substitution of “k” and “g” sounds (which are usually articulated by the tongue making contact with the soft palate at the back of the throat, or velum) with sounds that are produced at the front of the tongue, most commonly the “t” and “d” sounds. One example of velar fronting would be pronouncing the word “goose” as “doose.”
Palatal fronting is quite similar to velar fronting in terms of the involved process; however, with palatal fronting, the sounds “sh,” “zh,” “ch,” and “j” are the sounds that are typically substituted. One example of this would be pronouncing the word “shoe” as “sue” or the word “cheer” as “seer.”
It is important to be aware that fronting is an incredibly common process for young children between the ages of 2 and 3 and will often be self-corrected as the child grows and develops. If your child, however, is still fronting beyond the age of 4, it is important to seek the help and guidance of an experienced speech and language pathologist.
If you want to get your child evaluated for a speech sound disorder, getting started with Great Speech is quick and easy. Simply schedule your free introductory call today!
What Age Does Fronting Go Away?
As stated above, fronting is a normal and common part of the process of learning and mastering language. Most children will outgrow this process by age 4; however, some children may exhibit fronting at age 7 and beyond. If a child has not self-corrected their fronting by age 4, it is recommended that intervention through speech therapy is explored.
What Can I Do To Help My Child?
Fronting falls into the category of phonological processes that are normal for children to explore and employ as they learn. The phonology of language informs us about how sounds fit together to form words. Children who struggle with a phonology disorder, such as fronting, have not yet mastered the rules for how sounds must fit together to create words, or they are using specific processes to simplify words or avoid difficult sounds.
In contrast to other speech-language disorders, which often involve physical challenges that complicate the speech process, the process of correcting phonological processes is often a matter of simply re-learning how to produce specific sounds in certain situations and contexts.
While seeking the help of a speech therapist is always the best course of action, there are some strategies you can use at home to help your child reduce or eliminate their fronting difficulties.
One of the best strategies for fronting is to work with the child to isolate the sound that they are struggling to produce. Demonstrate with your own mouth the proper placement of the tongue, and have your child do the same. Practice this placement and sound production until they have mastered producing the sound in isolation. From here, try integrating the sound into a single syllable and, eventually, whole words and combinations of words.
The key to helping a child who is struggling with fronting is repetition and patience.
How Long Does it Take to Correct Fronting?
The amount of time spent in speech therapy will always differ between individuals.. Speech therapy sessions should occur regularly, ideally twice weekly for 30 minutes each time, to ensure ideal progress. In more severe cases, speech therapy can be ongoing for months to years and even indefinitely. The amount of treatment time required also depends on how many speech sounds need to be addressed in the treatment plan, with more sound errors requiring a longer duration of therapy. Working with your child between therapy sessions also plays a critical role in achieving their goals.
How Do You Treat Fronting in Speech Therapy?
Speech therapy for fronting begins with a thorough evaluation of your child’s speech and language skills. Once the sounds that are causing difficulty are identified, the speech and language pathologist will create a custom treatment plan. This can include the use of a wide variety of methods, strategies, exercises, and tools. Each treatment plan is unique to each child and their needs and challenges.
If you want to learn more about speech therapy for fronting or to get your child started with one of our speech and language pathologists, contact us to schedule your free introductory call today!