What is a Phonological Disorder?
A phonological process disorder refers to deficits with phoneme patterns within the context of conversational speech. With phonological processes, there are consistent error patterns in connected speech that may include: reductions, simplifications, vowel substitutions, and placement changes, which are made in the production of the target words. Typically, the more phonological processes a child uses in speech, the more unintelligible their conversational speech will be. While certain processes are expected for younger children as they are beginning to learn speech rules, older children are not expected to present with these error patterns.
What are the causes?
While the etiology of phonological disorders is sometimes unknown, speech errors are often demonstrated in children who present with certain developmental, neurological, and genetic disorders. Children with hearing loss or a history of ear infections at a young age may also be at a higher risk for acquiring a phonological disorder. In addition, children coming from families who have a history of speech and language disorders may also be placed at a higher risk for developing problems with their speech production.
How do I know if my child has a Phonological Disorder?
If you notice that your child is highly unintelligible when speaking and demonstrates consistent error patterns in their speech, they may be presenting with a phonological disorder. Children with speech production disorders may also become frustrated when communicating, as others have a difficult time comprehending them. Some of your child’s error patterns may consist of:
- Deletion of consonants : “house” becomes “hou”
- Simplifications: “spoon” becomes “pun”
- Reductions: “umbrella” becomes “ella”
- Fronting: “cat” become “tat”
How can I help treat my child?
If you suspect that your child has a phonological disorder, it is recommended that you have them evaluated by a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) for further assessment. During the evaluation, the SLP will assess your child’s articulation and speech sound production skills, as well as complete an oral motor observation to assess their oral structures and functioning. The SLP may also recommend language testing as part of the comprehensive evaluation. Based upon their findings, the SLP may recommend weekly treatment, in which the family is encouraged to participate in the treatment sessions and/or participate in a home program to help generalize therapy objectives.
Our Approach at North Shore Pediatric Therapy
The dedicated team of SLP’s at North Shore Pediatric Therapy is focused on improving communication skills for all children. Treatment begins following an evaluation with an SLP to determine the severity of the problem and to establish therapy objectives. Various treatment strategies and approaches will be utilized to help increase speech sound production skills, in coordination with a team-based approach as needed. Parents will also be given verbal and/or written feedback about strategies they can use at home to help their child succeed.