Most of the referrals that I receive are due to parents reporting their children mispronounce sounds or that they are hard to understand. After a thorough evaluation, most children fall into three main categories. I want to briefly share what those are so you can be more familiar with what is going on with the speech of your little ones!
- Articulation Disorder: This is the most common result of testing. An articulation disorder is when a child demonstrates consistent errors on certain sounds like /r/, /l/, /s/, etc.
- Phonological Disorder: This is when a child demonstrates a consistent PATTERN of errors on sounds. For example, all sounds made in the back of the mouth (like /k/ and /g/) are moved to the front of the mouth and become different sounds (like /t/ and /d/ – “tat” for “cat”). Phonological disorders can seem overwhelming because the patterns of errors make it seem like there is a lot more going on, however, once you start treating one set in a pattern the rest usually fall in line!
- Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS): Sometimes a child is extremely difficult to understand. The child may also demonstrate difficulties with oral motor planning, motor sequencing, and inconsistencies in error sounds. Some days/times they may sound better than others. Sometimes they may pronounce a word correctly but then the next time it is pronounced differently. Children with CAS may also demonstrate errors on their vowels and groping movements with their tongues while they try to find and create the correct sound.
All three of these disorders/diagnoses require DIFFERENT methods of treatment to be most effective so it’s vital to have a professional speech-language pathologist provide an evaluation and guide you in a course of treatment. Most of these will not go away on their own and may become more difficult to treat as children get older and speech habits become more ingrained. Early, intense intervention is especially important for CAS.
It is my hope that knowing a little about these three areas can give you a better idea of what types of difficulties your child(ren) may be showing in their speech so they can get the help they need to move past it. Please email me or use the contact form if you have any questions about the speech and language of you or a loved one!