Articulation and phonological disorders refer to errors in speech sound production that are not due to a student’s age. A common example is a frontal lisp, in which a child substitutes the “TH” sound for the /s/ sound. These types of errors may impact a student’s ability to be understood when speaking, their social functioning, or their reading/writing development. Depending on the error, such errors may also have very little negative impact on a student. When determining whether to treat articulation or phonological disorders in the school environment, a student’s ability to access the school curriculum with his or her current speech sound production is considered. As with any skill, frequent practice of the target speech sound in multiple environments (speech sessions, the classroom, home) assists progress toward accurate production of the sound.
Articulation refers to the use of articulators (tongue, teeth, lips, alveolar ridge behind the upper teeth, and palate) to produce speech sounds. Articulation errors involve misuse of the articulators, resulting in inaccurate production of the sound. This may occur with one or more sounds for a particular student.
Phonology refers to patterns of speech sound production. When young children learn to speak, they use phonological processes which make the target word easier to say. Missing or inaccurate speech sounds follow patterns related to features of the sound or its location in the word. A particular speech sound may be produced correctly in one position of the word (at the beginning) but not in another (at the end). Common examples are final consonant deletion (saying “ba” for “ball”) and cluster reduction (saying “boo” for “blue”). A more comprehensive list can be found in the “norms” section of this page. As the child matures, these phonological processes are abandoned in favor of more mature productions of the word. A child with a phonological disorder uses these processes longer than is found in typical development. A few phonological processes, such as initial consonant deletion (saying “at” for “cat”), are not found in typical development.
Norms are the average performance of a group of a given age or background, based on data from typically functioning individuals. According to the Massachusetts Speech and Hearing Association Entrance and Exit Criteria Guidelines, 2010, English speech sounds are mastered by 90% of children by the following ages:
Age 3: /p/, /b/, /h/, /m/, /n/, /w/
Age 4: /k/, /g/, /d/, /f/, /t/, “Y”
Age 6: “NG”
Age 7: /r/, /l/, /s/, “CH,” “J,” “SH”
Age 8: /z/, /v/, “TH”
|Phonological processes are typically abandoned by these ages (in years ; months)
Taken from http://www.speech-language-therapy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=31:table3&catid=11:admin&Itemid=117
- Go Fish: Using the links available below, print two copies of pictures that have your child’s speech sound, or ask his or her speech therapist for some. Cut them apart, and you have your “Go Fish” cards! You can also tape them to regular playing cards to make them more sturdy. To play “Go Fish,” deal 5-7 cards to each player and hold them so that the other player cannot see them. Place the remaining cards in a pile between players. Ask the child if he has a match for one of the cards in your hand. “Do you have a cow?” If the child has the card, he should give it to you. If not, he should say “Go Fish,” and you should draw one card from the pile. Any matches should be set aside. Then it is the child’s turn to ask you for the match to one of the cards in his hand. Be sure to monitor your child’s speech sound production when he is using the names of the items in the pictures, and have him repeat the question if he produces the sound in error. Take turns until one person runs out of cards. The person with the most matches wins. If your family is more familiar with different rules of Go Fish, play the way you know. This game is especially useful for students working on the /g/ and /f/ sounds, as the phrase “go fish” contains both sounds!
- Memory: This activity also uses two copies of a word list from one of the links below. Cut the pictures apart, and tape them to playing cards if you wish to make them sturdier. Arrange the cards face-down on the floor or table. Take turns flipping over two cards and labeling the picture on each card. If the pictures match, collect them. If they do not, turn them back over. Continue playing until all matches are found. Be sure to monitor your child’s speech sound production when he is using the names of the items in the pictures, and have him repeat the word if he produces the sound in error.
- Board Games: Just about any turn-taking game can be made into a speech activity – Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Connect 4, Jenga, Tic-Tac-Toe, Checkers, etc. Using pictures or word lists from the links below, have the child label 1-3 pictures before he takes his turn. If the game uses cards, a good way to keep control of the game is to hold the cards in your hand, and give the child the card once he has labeled the picture correctly for his turn.
- Hidden Speech Pictures: Print out pictures with the child’s speech sounds from one of the links below. If your child is a reader, you may choose to write the words on index cards instead. While the child isn’t looking, hide the pictures/cards around your home. Then, tell the child how many pictures you hid, and have him search for them. Each time he finds a picture, have him say the name of the item in the picture 3-5 times. Continue until all pictures are found.
- Mad Libs: For older students who understand the parts of speech that Mad Libs require, this can be a fun activity with a silly story at the end. Ask the student to think of words for the Mad Lib that contain their target speech sound. If the student is a strong reader, have him read the resulting story as well.
- Speech Sound Scavenger Hunt: Awareness of the sounds in words is crucial to build the skill of using the correct sounds in words! Any early literacy activity will benefit the student making speech sound errors. To play the Scavenger Hunt, take turns finding items that start with the student’s target speech sound. Play this game in different locations (at home, in the car, at the park, at the grocery store) so you find different things! Be sure the student is using his target speech sound correctly.
You have to walk before you can run. A student must be able to produce a sound by itself before he or she can produce it in words or sentences. This site breaks down the way most articulation therapy proceeds, in order of increasing difficulty. Check with your child’s speech therapist to see which level is most appropriate for your child’s home practice.
This site has pictures of words and sentences that contain most speech sounds children produce in error. These can be great to use in the activities above. The rest of this site is rich with information, too, so feel free to look around!
The materials on this site can be used in a similar fashion as the site above, but may provide different words for practice.
More word lists! Sometimes it’s necessary to switch lists, just to keep practice from becoming monotonous. Different lists also contain different words, which can have the added benefit of supporting vocabulary development.
This site has several interactive games that each focus on a specific speech sound. The computer-based nature of these games may be motivating for certain students. It’s best to have the student play this game with you or in your presence, so that you can be sure they are practicing the speech sounds accurately.
Practice speech sounds and reading at the same time! This site has short stories that contain a large number of a particular speech sound, perfect for students who are working on their target sounds in sentences! Note: If your child has reading difficulties, work on reading and speech separately, as working on them together may become too frustrating for the child.
If your child is having trouble using new speech sounds at home, it’s always best to ask their speech therapist how to proceed so that your cues can be consistent. However, if you run into a bump in the road, or if your child is not receiving speech therapy, this site contains tips to encourage a more accurate version of the sound!
Looking for more? This site has an abundance of links that may help you find what you are interested in. Click on the link for “Speech Sound Disorders” in the grid at the top of the page to find resources specific to articulation and phonology.