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Speech Disorders in Children

It is normal for young children who are acquiring language skills to have difficulty pronouncing words correctly. This is part of the learning process. Different speech sounds are acquired at different ages and language skills develop over time. By the age of 8 most children have mastered all the sounds in words, but some children have speech disorders. This means that past their expected age, they have trouble pronouncing certain sounds and words. This can make it difficult to understand what a child is trying to say.

Speech sound problems include articulation disorders and phonological processing disorders.

Articulation disorders are a problem producing certain sounds, such as “ar” or “sh”.

Phonological process disorder is a pattern of phonetic errors. This includes omitting sounds in words.

What causes speech sound disorders?

Many children with a speech sound disorder have no known cause. Occasionally errors may be caused by:

  • A history of problems with hearing or hearing loss, including ear infections

  • Developmental disability

  • Physical problems like cleft palate

  • Disorders affecting nerves involved in speech

  • Injuries to the brain

What the the symptoms of a speech sound disorder in a child?

Children may have trouble producing certain sounds correctly, which may be a delay based on their age. Some errors include:

  • -Sound omissions: saying “foh” instead of “phone”

  • Sound distortions” saying “pone” instead of “phone”

  • Swapping sounds: saying “weed” for “read”

If your child frequently makes certain speech errors, he or she may have a phonological processing disorder. Mistakes can be common in young children learning language skills. But when they pass a certain age, it can be a disorder. The signs of this problem are:

  • Saying only 1 syllable in a word (example: “bay” instead of “baby”)

  • Simplifying a word by repeating 2 syllables (example: “baba” instead of “bottle”)

  • Leaving out a consonant sound (example: “at” or “ba” instead of “bat”)

  • Changing certain consonant sounds (example: “tat” instead of “cat”)

How are speech disorders diagnosed?

After your physician has ruled out a hearing loss, you will want to meet with a speech-language pathologist. This is an expert who can evaluate and treat children with speech disorders and delays.

If you suspect your child has a speech disorder or your pediatrician has given you a referral for speech, please

with us to determine if your child needs a speech and language evaluation

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