We all know the cute mispronunciations children make when learning to speak. For example, a four-year old may substitute a multi-syllable word like “spaghetti” for a jumbled up “bisketti”, or pronounce “aminal” instead of “animal”. These kinds of mistakes are common and completely natural when first learning how to form words. Should your child continue to make these mistakes for extended amounts of time (past age four or five), you may want to investigate the possibility of your child having an articulation disorder.
What is an Articulation Disorder?
Parents should know that as their children are developing speech, they often have trouble with certain sounds, but naturally grow past this phase. Depending on the age of your child, he or she may still be learning how to form the sound. Articulation disorders symptomatically involve complications with producing certain sounds, and manifest themselves in the distortion of words – sometimes to the point where the speech becomes difficult to understand.
It is important to remember that there is a difference between learning to speak and articulation disorders. Some pediatricians may advise you to “wait and see” how your child develops, but parents tend to have the best intuition about their children. Should you feel something is not right, get an evaluation from a speech therapist to know for sure. It is better to have things checked and be wrong, then waste valuable time for therapy.
Therapy for Articulation Disorders
As a parent, you have witnessed the speed at which your child has grown and developed till now. You will be able to tell if they are slowing down in progression. If you are unsure of your child’s progression in terms of his or her speech knowledge, take a look at this <a href=” http://www.talkingchild.com/speechchart.html”>speech chart</a> from Talking Child for a general idea of speech milestones.
A small percentage of children under 8 have articulation disorders. Fortunately this disorder can be treated and overcome with speech therapy. Therapy will target the cause of the problem, and offer multiple ways to get your child back on track. Some examples of therapy can include:
- The way your child hears the sound
- The way it feels to make the sound (syllables, words and sentences)
- Posture and position of the body and mouth
- Visual training; watching others and themselves speak in the mirror
If you are uncertain of your child’s speech development, you can always ask a speech language pathologist for guidance. It behooves your child to diagnose this sooner than later, so he or she can readily overcome this disorder.