What is a speech disorder?
A speech disorder refers to a problem in a child’s production of speech sounds, sequences and related areas such as oral motor function. These delays and disorders include simple sound substitutions, omissions and distortions, as well as disordered patterns of production.
An articulation disorder refers to a child’s inability to correctly produce speech sounds (phonemes) because of the imprecise placement, timing, pressure, speed, or flow of movement of the lips, tongue, or throat. Such disorders result in sound substitutions, omissions or distortions. For example, a child may substitute /w/ for /r/.
A phonological disorder refers to a child’s inability to correctly produce a pattern of speech sounds, resulting in the presence of phonological processes. For example, a child may use the process of backing–substituting sounds that are produced further back in the mouth (i.e. /k/ and /g/)–for sounds that are produced further forward in the mouth (i.e. /t/ and /d/).
What causes a speech disorder?
A speech disorder can be caused by a number of problems like hearing loss, neurological disorders, brain injury, mental retardation, drug abuse, physical impairments like a cleft lip or palate, and vocal abuse or misuse. Frequently, however, the cause of the speech disorder is unknown.
How does a speech disorder progress?
Developmental articulation errors and phonological patterns occur as a child is learning to speak and should resolve in a developmental sequence over time. Most speech sound errors should resolve by age 3 with the exception of /r/ and /l/ confusion. However, errors that persist and errors that are atypical to begin with require intervention and therapy in order for a child to have fully intelligible speech.
How do I help treat my child’s speech disorder?
There are many treatment options for a speech disorder. Usually, therapy involves a combination of auditory bombardment, modeling, and production practice. Treatment can also utilize a cycles approach (focusing on one sound or process for a set period of time, and then cycling on to other sounds) or by focusing on one sound or process until a criterion level is reached.
Our approach at North Shore Pediatric Therapy
Our speech-language pathologists are trained to evaluate and treat all speech, articulation and phonological disorders in children. A variety of approaches are used, and all treatments plans are individualized to meet your child’s specific needs.