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Speech Sound Disorders: Articulation and Phonological Processes
A speech sound disorder (SSD) is a broad classification of disorders affecting a child’s (and sometimes adult’s) ability to communicate. Though all children make mistakes when learning new words and sounds, a disorder occurs when the child reaches a certain age and is still making certain mistakes. A speech-language pathologist (SLP) can help treat and possibly cure SSDs. The two main types of SSDs are articulation and phonological disorders.

The main characteristics of a SSD are:

  • Substitutions- one sounds is used in place of another
  • Distortions- a sound is changed slightly and made incorrectly
  • Omissions- certain sounds are completely left out
  • Additions- an extra sound is added to a word

Articulation Disorders

Articulation disorders are characterized by substitution, distortion, omission or addition of sounds in words. A child with an articulation disorder will have difficulty learning how to physically produce certain sounds. One of the more common articulation problems is the inability for a child to produce the “r” sound. The “r” is often substituted with “w,” like saying “twee,” instead of “tree.” A lisp also is a common articulation distortion.

An SLP can teach a patient new ways to produce sounds (for example, changing the placement of the tongue when making certain sounds). Sounds in different words are practiced in repetition, until they become natural for the speaker.

Phonological Process Disorder

The hallmark of a phonological process disorder is a set pattern of sound errors. A child with a phonological process disorder will have difficulties learning the sound system. He or she may not realize that certain different sounds have different meanings. A common example is replacing the “d” sound with a “g”; saying “dot,” for example, instead of “got.” Children with this disorder may be able to hear the sound distinction in other peoples’ voices, but be unaware when they make the distortion.

An SLP will design a program involving studying and repeating words that differ only by one sound to indicate how different sounds signify different meanings. The suggested exercises will generalize age-appropriate phonological patterns.

Causes and Diagnosis

In most cases, the reason speech sound disorders occur is unknown. Many children outgrow the problem, but those who cannot learn to produce sounds correctly, or do not learn the rules of speech on their own, need intervention. A child with an articulation disorder who is over the age of eight, or a phonological process disorder who is over the age of five, should be evaluated by an SLP to determine the correct treatment plan.

Black, T. (2014). Speech Sound Disorders: Articulation and Phonological Processes. Retrieved August 6, 2014, from HASA CIRS Interpreting@ Gateway School Hearing and Speech-Language Services: http://www.hasa.org/stopics/speech-sound-disorders



Class Announcements
  • Articulation Homework

    All articulation homework/ practice items are sent home with the students weekly. Younger students in grades 3-5 at Bowen Elementary have a speech folder with work that needs to be practiced nightly and returned with a parent signature each week. Older students in grades 6-8 are given worksheets each week that are also to be signed by their parent/ caregiver and returned the following week. The links provided offer additional information for both parents and students. 


    NOTE: All YouTube videos can only be accessed from home with parent permission/ supervision.


    NOTE: Please do NOT upload any personally identifiable information about your child to any site listed in the 'Links' section.

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