Articulation and Phonological Disorders
When a child has a speech disorder such as an articulation or phonological disorder, they are unable to produce, initiate, or imitate speech sounds correctly or fluently. Speech disorders can affect a child’s ability to communicate, decrease their self-confidence, and have been correlated with later language and reading disabilities.
We expect a child to be understood by:
18 months: 25% intelligible
24 months: 50-75% intelligible
36 months: 75% intelligible
By age 4, children should be 100% intelligible
A speech delay simply means that there is a slower rate of development than expected. Here are some characteristics of children that present with a speech delay:
- They have difficulty acquiring a variety of consonant sounds as quickly as expected
- They don’t sounds like children their age
- They struggle to be understood
Kindergarten children should be 90-95% intelligible to unfamiliar listeners.
The phonetic level is the motor act of producing the vowels and consonants (the sounds), so that we have an inventory all the sounds we need in order to speak our language(s).
Articulation vs. Phonological
Both can put a child at risk for writing and reading disorders.
Please remember acquisition of sounds is variable from child to child, which is why there is a large range for some sounds. If a child does not have /k/ or /g/ at the beginning of Kindergarten, it will most likely develop naturally IF there are no other sounds errors. Please be aware of some of the following red flags for articulation that require immediate referral:
The phonological or phonemic level is the brainwork that organizes the speech sounds into the sound patterns to be produced. The sounds need to contrast with each other, or be distinct from one another, so that we can make sense when we talk.
Articulation (phonetic) disorder is a speech sound disorder that affects the PHONETIC level. The child has difficulty saying particular consonants and vowels. The reason for this may be unknown (e.g., children with functional speech disorders who do NOT have serious problems with muscle function); or the reason may be known (e.g., children with dysarthria who DO have serious problems with muscle function).
A phonological disorder is a speech sound disorder that affects the PHONOLOGICAL (phonemic) level. The child has difficulty organizing their speech sounds into a system of sound patterns (phonemic patterns).
The difference between an Articulation and a Phonological disorder; An articulation disorder is the child’s difficulty at a phonetic/motoric level. They have trouble making the individual speech sounds. A phonological disorder is a child’s difficulty at their phonemic level (in their brain). This “phonemic level” is sometimes referred to as “the linguistic level” or “a cognitive level”.
A shy child speaks up loud and clear
At the age of 2, my son’s preschool teacher noticed he was a little behind in his speech, he was muttering in a low tone. It was hard for anyone to understand what he was trying to tell us. When I was told he needed therapy, I was a bit nervous because my son is very shy around people he is not familiar with. I was afraid the speech therapist would get nowhere with him, but boy was I wrong. By the end of his first session with Ms. Brooke my son was comfortable with her; he did not want the session to end. Ms. Brooke took the time to research new ideas and activities that would accommodate my son’s needs to help him open his mouth when speaking. She focused the entire session on making sure he practiced the ability to speak up loud and clear while still having fun and kept him engaged. He only had therapy for 5 short months; Ms. Brooke gave him the confidence he needed to speak up. He continues to ask to see Ms. Brooke, he misses her so much. She left him with such great moments and experiences that I do not think he will ever forget her.
Brooke's heart is in her work, and you can tell she loves what she does
Brooke has been working with my son Colton for about a year now. She is an amazing speech path and has created a great relationship with him during that time. He is always super excited to see her, and sees the time he spends with her as play time. Yet he’s always learning. Colton has an obsession with trains, and so generally wants to show her how his trains are set up every week. Brooke manages to incorporate whatever skill they are working on into this play. Whether it was putting more than one word together, or focusing on certain sounds, or not dropping the endings of words. She also leaves us with suggestions on what to do with him over the next week to help with the goal that we are currently working on.
Brooke’s heart is in her work, and you can tell she loves what she does. If you choose to work with her, you will be happy with the results you see. Colton had had an explosion of vocabulary this year, and I know she contributed greatly to that.
Her gentle and compassionate approach was just the connection my son needed
My son Finnian was diagnosed with autism at age 3 and was non verbal. I remember being so scared and stressed about Finn’s future until I met his team of teachers and therapists. Miss Brooke was my son Finn’s speech therapist in his EC Pre-K classroom. She was amazing with Finn and supportive to me. Her gentle and compassionate approach was just the connection my son needed to feel safe and grow. One of my favorite qualities of Miss Brooke is her genuine enthusiasm when working with my son. I will always be grateful for her twinkling eyes and contagious smile when discussing my son’s progress and growth. Thank you Miss Brooke!