Lannon Twomey: Speech-Language Pathologist

Treatment Areas: Speech - Articulation Disorders

Lannon Twomey: Speech Pathology With A Difference

Articulation is the combining and sequencing of all motor processes involved in planning and executing movements necessary for speech production. Speech sounds develop from birth through about age 7. This means it is not unusual for a young child to misproduce later-developing speech sounds. For example, a two-year old most likely is unable to clearly produce /r/, a sound that typically is established between the ages of 5 and 7 ½, but is able to use lip sounds such as /b, p, m/ consistently. These articulation patterns would be considered "developmentally appropriate." For further information about typical speech sound development please refer to Speech Sound Development.

A child with an articulation disorder is unable to produce a specific speech sound independent of the position within a word or the surrounding sounds. For example, a child with a frontal lisp has difficulty obtaining appropriate tongue posturing for the /s/ sound. He or she produces the sound with the tongue positioned too far forward between the teeth. This aberrant tongue position does not result in the accurate production of /s/ but rather an error production of /th/.

A child with an articulation disorder:

  • is unable to produce a specific speech sound/s regardless of the context or word position of that sound.
  • may have difficulty with an isolated sound or many different sounds.
  • may have reduced speech clarity, or intelligibility, relative to his or her age-level peers.
  • may demonstrate frustration, embarrassment, or a reluctance to speak as a result of his or her speech.

Oftentimes, articulation disorders are confused with phonological disorders which are rooted in a child’s language system. This is not uncommon, especially in defining speech/language difficulties in young children. Click here for more information about phonological disorders.