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Speech Sounds Disorders

Children can have trouble saying sounds clearly. It may be hard to understand what they say. Speech-language pathologists, or SLPs, can help!

A child who does not say sounds by the expected ages may have a speech sound disorder. You may hear the terms "articulation disorder" and "phonological disorder" to describe speech sound disorders like this.


Signs and Symptoms

Your child may substitute one sound for another, leave sounds out, add sounds, or change a sound. It can affect their intelligibility (how easily others understand him).

The chart below shows the ages when most English-speaking children develop sounds. Children learning more than one language may develop some sounds earlier or later.



Below are examples of signs and symptoms of speech sound disorders:

  • omissions/deletions—certain sounds are omitted or deleted (e.g., "cu" for "cup" and "poon" for "spoon")

  • substitutions—one or more sounds are substituted, which may result in loss of phonemic contrast (e.g., "thing" for "sing" and "wabbit" for "rabbit")

  • additions—one or more extra sounds are added or inserted into a word (e.g., "buhlack" for "black")

  • distortions—sounds are altered or changed (e.g., a lateral "s")

  • syllable-level errors—weak syllables are deleted (e.g., "tephone" for "telephone")

Causes