Articulation Or Phonological Disorder?
It is normal for children to make sound errors as they learn to produce the correct sound (adults may also have speech sound errors as a result of a stroke, brain injury, and other neurological conditions). An articulation disorder primarily involves speech sound errors, such as pronouncing zebra as "the bra." A phonological disorder is more complex, and involves patterns of speech errors. For example, stating the word “tup” for cup, a child is using a front of mouth sound, /t/, instead of a back sound. A child may also eliminate one sound in a word, such as “boken” for broken. Other errors include weak syllable deletion (“nana” for banana), stopping (“ting” for thing), and voicing (“pig” for big). In these cases, intelligibility is severely reduced and family and friends will have difficulty in understanding what the child is saying.
The R Sound
The /r/ consonant is acquired at an average age of 5, according to three important studies (Poole, 1934; Templin, 1957; Pranther et al., 1975). A more recent study by Smit et al. (1990) suggested that the age of acquisition for /r/ is 8 years old (females and males). If your 3 year old child is not pronouncing the /r/ sound correctly, he likely does not need speech therapy. However, if there are additional speech errors, speech or language delays, or a history of ear infections, the child must be evaluated by a Speech Language Pathologist. Click here to contact our Brooklyn Speech Therapy center with your questions.
Causes of Speech Sound Errors
Some causes for speech sound errors include developmental delays, autism, history of ear infections, and neurological disorders. Each child is different, and some will pick up the sounds faster than others.
We recently had a parent bring a 4 year old child for speech therapy for the /th/ sound. The child was using /f/ in place of the /th/ sound (i.e. “fis” for “this”). The average age of acquisition for the /th/ sound is 6 for females, 8 for males. However, this child had additional speech errors that were making communication unintelligible.
Childhood Apraxia of Speech
Childhood Apraxia of speech (also called CAS) is a speech disorder in which the child has difficulty combining syllables and words. There is NO weakness in the laryngeal muscles or any of the articulators. The classical symptom for CAS is making inconsistent speech errors. Longer words are more difficult to pronounce than shorter words.
If your child has speech sound errors, is difficult to understand, or you would like an evaluation, please call our Brooklyn Speech Therapy office at 347-871-8533.
National Institute of Health: “Children with developmental apraxia of speech will not outgrow the problem on their own. Speech-language therapy is often helpful for these children and for people with acquired apraxia who do not spontaneously recover all of their speech abilities.”