WHAT IS AN ARTICULATION DISORDER?
An articulation disorder is defined as the atypical production of speech sounds. It is characterized by substitutions, omissions, additions and/or distortions that may interfere with how well someone’s speech is understood. Articulation disorders can be classified as either functional or organic. Functional disorders have no known cause, where as organic disorders result from one or more physical causes (e.g., cleft palate, hearing impairment). Some articulation disorders may demonstrate both functional and organic characteristics.
Characteristics of an Articulation Disorder:
Common errors include:
Substitutions: producing /w/ for /r/ such as “wed” for “red”
Omissions: leaving out a sound such as “tar” for “star”
Additions: adding an additional sound in a word such as “buhlue” for “blue”
Distortions: when a sound is produced less clearly such as in a lateral lisp
When to See a Speech-Language Pathologist?
When you or others cannot understand your child’s speech
Your child’s speech demonstrates “unusual” errors
Your child expresses concerns regarding their own speech
Your child becomes frustrated due to others not understanding his/her speech
The Evaluation Process
A formal evaluation is completed in order to assess articulation skills, as well as the coordination of the articulators used for speech production (i.e., lips, tongue, etc.).
Evaluation includes formal testing, analysis of a spontaneous speech sample, as well as clinical observations.
Results of the evaluation will determine the optimal treatment plan for the patient’s individual needs. A formal report is written based on the evaluation, including the clinician’s recommendations for treatment.
TREATMENT OF ARTICULATION DISORDERS
Treatment addresses the place, manner and voice of articulation of both erred consonants and vowels. Treatment follows a specific hierarchy for each sound; beginning with syllables, moving to words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs; and, concluding with generalization to conversational speech in all communicative contexts.
Treatment goals and activities are derived from the latest research in the field of speech-language pathology. Research states that, sounds that the patient cannot imitate, as well as more complex/later developing sounds (i.e., /r/, /th/, /l/) should be priority in treatment, as they are not likely to develop without direct treatment. Sounds that the patient can already imitate, as well as those that are less complex and earlier developing are more likely to generalize with treatment of the more complex sounds. Treatment of more complex targets promotes wide-spread generalization across the speech sound system.