How Do I know If My Child has an Articulation Disorder?

Articulation refers to the way humans produce sounds which includes the adjustments and movements of speech organs, such as the tongue or the lips. Sometimes, children will mispronounce a speech sound resulting in speech that is difficult to understand. When they make these same speech errors on a consistent basis, it can be a sign that the child has developed an articulation disorder.

Many common problems with articulation have been thought to be developmental in nature; for example, the ability to generate the ‘th’ sound does not generally develop until children are between 6-8 years of age. However, more recently, research has shown that articulation has no developmental norms and that even children with common types of articulation problems could benefit from early speech therapy.

More serious articulation disorders are characterized as a problem with articulation which generally begins early in the child’s speech development and persists throughout childhood. Articulation disorders include errors in speech production which make understanding your child very difficult, such as omissions, substitutions or distortions.

Causes of Articulation Disorders

Causes of articulation disorders vary greatly and include everything from ear infections to neurological dysfunction. In some children, there might not  be an identifiable cause. There are also many types of articulation disorders; in fact, it is the largest subset of all speech-language problems.

Symptoms to Watch For

So how can you, as a parent, tell if your child has a natural developmental delay in articulation or if he or she has an articulation disorder? Here are some examples of symptoms that could mean your child has an articulation disorder:

  • Babble doesn’t include consonant sounds by the age of 8-9 months
  • Speech is mostly unrecognizable at the age of 3
  • Continuation to leave consonants out of words at the age of 3
  • Even at 4, speech is still difficult to comprehend
  • Still not producing many sounds by the age of 6
  • Distorting, substituting or omitting sounds after 7 years of age
  • Worried about his speech, no matter what the age

Treatment of an Articulation Disorder

If your child is exhibiting any of these symptoms and you want to determine if he or she has an articulation disorder, a licensed speech-language pathologist can conduct a thorough evaluation. These professionals are specifically trained to identify and treat speech-language disorders and will be able to both diagnose the problem and suggest a follow-up course of action.

Generally, articulation therapy will consist of a series of drills or exercises that will help the child correct his/her sound productions and will depend heavily on repetition. The exact nature of these exercises will differ depending on the type of articulation disorder that your child exhibits. Because the success of these drills will depend on getting your child to repeat the sounds, it is important that you, as a parent, also get involved and practice with your child between therapy sessions.

Chicago Speech Therapy Addresses Articulation Disorders

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"Elizabeth was an incredibly communicative and supportive therapist for our daughter. We saw impressive improvement quickly, and our 2yo often looked forward to their weekly sessions. Our daughter just graduated from speech and we're so grateful for Elizabeth's expertise, empathy, and support over the past year!"

"We had the most wonderful experience with Chicago Speech Therapy! Our speech pathologist, Miss Megan, developed a bond with our son almost immediately. By week two, he would await her arrival by the window in our front door! She quickly discovered all of his favorite things and would bring so many toys of her own that would keep him engaged and wanting to talk! She gave us (parents) tons of strategies to work with on our own in between her weekly visits. Our son made consistent progress under her care and has now been released from speech therapy ~ which actually makes us so sad ~ simply because we miss Miss Megan! She basically became part of our family and will be dearly missed. I couldn’t recommend Miss Megan and Chicago Speech Therapy more!"

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