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What is a speech sound disorder?

A speech sound disorder is when a child has problems with articulation (making sounds) or phonological processes (sound patterns).  These sound errors may make it hard for people to understand what the child is saying.  


What are some of the signs/symptoms on an articulation disorder?

  • An articulation disorder involves problems making sounds.  Sounds may be substituted, omitted, added, or changed. 


What are some of the signs/symptoms of a phonological disorder? 

  • A phonological process disorder involves patterns of sound errors.  For example, a child may substitute all sounds made in the back of the mouth for those in the front of the mouth (e.g., saying "tup" for "cup"). 


What are the causes?

The cause of a speech sound disorder is often unknown.  Some causes may be due to the following:

  • A hearing loss
  • Structural or physiological abnormalities (e.g., cleft palate, tongue tie)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty controlling and shaping the movements of the mouth


How are speech skills evaluated? 

A speech evaluation allows us to obtain a complete picture of your child’s speech functioning and to develop goals to target in therapy.  The evaluation may entail:

  • An oral motor examination to assess the structure and function of the oral mechanism.
  • Standardized testing instruments to compare your child’s current sound production to other children the same age. 
  • Informal testing, which may include having the parents complete a case history form or informally observing your child’s speech production during a conversation.


How are speech skills treated?

The goal of speech therapy is to improve your child’s speech intelligibility.  Speech sound disorders may be treated by:

  • Teaching auditory discrimination skills, so your child can hear the difference between the target sound and error sound. 
  • Reshaping and toning the musculature of the mouth, so it is capable of accurate sound production. 
  • Improving sound production of error sounds.
  • Teaching the child to monitor and self-correct speech errors.


Where can I learn more?

For more information about speech development and speech disorders, please go to: