Articulation & Phonology
Articulation is known as the formation of clear and distinct sounds in speech using the jaw, lips, teeth and tongue. It is important that a child is able to produce sounds, words and sentences that are clear and can be easily understood by others, in order to express their basic needs and wants, as well as to engage in more complex conversations. Some children have difficulties with accurate movements of the jaw, tongue and lips, which may result in speech sounds that are unclear or even unintelligible. This is known as an articulation delay or disorder.
Depending on the extent of the difficulties, unclear speech may have an impact on:
- How well a child interacts with others
- Language and social skills development.
- Emotional well-being that may result in frustration, anger and in some cases behavioural issues
- Reading and spelling skills
Ages at which speech sounds are developed
Speech sounds are generally acquired according to a developmental sequence. By the age of 3 years old, a child’s speech should be easily understood by others. Some degree of speech sound errors are completely normal through the ages; however, by age 8, a child should be able to produce all speech sounds accurately. There is always some degree of variance in the age of acquisition of each speech sound, although the chart below does outline typical progress of the sounds and at what age each sound is mastered by:
3 years: m, n, h, w, p, b
4 years: k, d, g, f, t
5 years: y
6 years: zh, ch, sh, j, l, v
7 years: s, z, ng, th
8 years: r, consonant blends
Assessing your child’s speech/articulation skills
Articulation delays/disorders may be attributed to hearing loss, neurological disorders, physical impairments such as cleft lip or palate, poor oral-motor skills, or difficulty with placement of the articulators (lips, tongue, jaw etc.). The cause of the delay/disorder may also be unknown.
It is age-appropriate for children at certain ages to be producing errors with particular sounds. However, if a child is producing an error with a sound that they should have acquired, an assessment by a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) is highly recommended. At Magnolia Speech & Wellness, our SLPs will evaluate your child’s speech, to determine if they have correctly acquired their speech sounds in accordance with their age.
The Speech-Language Pathologist will listen to your child and may use a formal articulation test to record sound errors. An oral mechanism examination is also done to determine whether the muscles of the mouth are working correctly. The SLP may recommend speech treatment if the sound is not appropriate for the child’s age or if it is not a feature of a dialect or accent. For children, the SLP may also evaluate language development, if needed, to determine overall communication functioning.
Treating your child’s speech delay/disorder
If your child has a speech delay/disorder, therapy by a Speech-Language Pathologist is generally recommended. The SLP will teach your child the correct placement of articulators (tongue, lips, teeth, jaw etc.) and correct voicing to achieve the targeted sound. A variety of speech strategies will also be implemented to help your child maintain their achievements. Practice outside of therapy sessions is an important component of therapy success. Our services cater to the needs of the child and their family. As a result, sessions range in length, frequency, and duration.