Articulation and Speech Delays
and Disorders

Articulation and Speech Delays and Disorders

Although speech errors are common and expected as children learn to speak, persistent errors or difficulty being understood can indicate a need for an evaluation in speech-language pathology. Children can feel frustrated when they are consistently misunderstood due to speech sound errors. Untreated speech errors can have an impact of expressive language, reading and writing abilities and self-esteem. However, individualised speech-language pathology treatment can eliminate speech errors and their impact on the daily communication exchanges of your child.

Children learn to say sounds correctly by listening and watching the people around them speak.

Sounds are acquired and mastered at all different ages. For instance, the /b/ sound develops very early, the /s/ sound develops much later. For example, it’s perfectly normal at the age of 3 for a child to say “tat” instead of “sat.”

As a child grows, their speech should become clearer and clearer as they master all the sounds in the language gradually. However, some children may have difficulty producing a few sounds, or they may have trouble producing many. For those children, intervention is recommended as early as possible to catch up to their peers.

How can you tell if my child has a problem
with  articulation (pronunciation and talking)?

If a child has difficulties with articulation, they might :

difficulté articulation
  • Become overly frustrated when communicating with others.
  • Produce speech that is difficult to understand even for familiar listeners.
  • Tend to use only vowel sounds (very open-mouthed noises).
  • Produce speech that is unclear alongside dribbling and messy eating skills.
  • Produces speech that is less clear than other children of the same age.
  • Be school aged and still having difficulty saying several sounds.

Treatment options for children with speech difficulties are there different treatment approaches for speech errors?

Treatment, or also known as intervention, depends on the articulation or speech difficulties a child is having. Depending on the age of the child and the severity of the speech errors, an intervention plan is built to address the child’s needs and to encourage more accurate, intelligible speech. Most frequently, therapy sessions concentrate on many repetitions of the
corrected sound with coaching for parents on how to practice at home. The sessions tend to be shorter in length than typical 60-minute sessions, and there is an emphasis on the practice done outside the clinic.
Two common approaches are :

Articulation Therapy

  • For children working on a single sound error or substitution that is not part of a whole class of sounds
  • Some children have more than one articulation error
  • Some children have articulation errors in addition to phonology errors
  • This is the most straight-forward type of therapy to do: start with sounds in isolation, then nonsense syllables, single words, phrases, sentences, structured conversational tasks, unstructured conversation

Phonological Therapy

  • For children who have phonological processes, or problems with entire classes of sounds
  • These children are often difficult to understand due to many sound errors
  • All children use phonological processes up to certain ages but they disappear between 3-5 years
  • Therapy differs from articulation because you don’t start with sounds in isolation, you start with minimal pairs of whole words to show the difference between the correct production and the child’s error.
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Conclusion

Speech and articulation delays can lead to frustration and less speaking by your child. This can have impacts on the language abilities, their social skills, and ultimately their self-esteem. A complete evaluation and intervention by a speech-language pathologist can eliminate those speech errors for your child. The speech-language pathologists at the Centre Mosaïque de Québec are trained to evaluate your child, whether they speak one language, two
or many, to ensure their speech sounds are developing well and to support your child if needed.

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The Centre Mosaïque is committed to providing prompt care to meet your needs. Feel free to contact us to find out how our speech therapists can help you.