Articulation/ Phonological Delays and Disorders

Articulation disorders focus on errors in the production of individual speech sounds and phonological disorders focus on predictable, rule-based errors that affect more than one sound. Click the links below to learn more.

What are Speech and Sound Disorders?

A speech sound disorder (SSD) can occur when a person or child does not accurately use the parts of their mouth required for making speech sounds such as their lips, tongue, teeth, and the roof of their mouth. This affects how a person produces speech and can cause them to be misunderstood.

People of all ages can experience speech sound errors. SSD’s can be divided into two categories: articulation disorders and phonological disorders.

An articulation disorder is present when a person has difficulty making certain sounds. For example, the /r/ sound is a very common speech sound error for young children. It is important to note, however, that not all speech sounds are expected to be perfect as a child develops. Sound errors are only considered a “disorder” whenever they persist after the expected developmental age. According to, “Developmental Phonological
Disorders: A practical guide for families and teachers” these are the approximate ages by which children should have mastered these English speech sounds.

A phonological disorder, however, occurs whenever a child has difficulty understanding how sounds are produced and used within
their language.

This causes the child to use specific error patterns, or “processes,” for producing advanced speech sounds. According to, “Developmental Phonological Disorders: A practical guide for families and teachers”
these are common phonological processes that are experienced in the English language and the age by which children should no longer present with these error patterns.

What causes Speech Sound Disorders?

Speech sound disorders can be caused by functional difficulties with physical production of speech sounds (e.g., the child might say “lello” for “yellow” or “gat” for “cat”).

Other, more organic, causes might include:

  • Hearing Loss
  • Developmental Disorder, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Anatomical Abnormalities, such as cleft lip or palate
  • Genetic Disorder, such as Down Syndrome
  • Movement Disorders, such as Cerebral Palsy

How are Speech Sound Disorders Diagnosed?

Speech-language pathologists, or SLP’s, are trained to assess the speech of both children and adults. They will begin by testing the person’s hearing and observing how they move their mouth, tongue, lips, etc. The SLP will then use formal tests and conversational samples to determine if a speech sound disorder is present.

How are Speech Sound Disorders Treated?

There are many different speech sound therapy approaches that can be used in therapy and at home! A speech-language pathologist will determine which approach will be used for you or your loved one based on the person’s specific sound errors, age, and other needs. Overall, therapy will be focused on informing the client about and modeling correct speech sound production with a variety of activities.

First, a speech-language pathologist will make an individualized treatment plan for each client including long term goals, session objectives, therapy techniques, and activities.

How Can I Support My Loved One at Home?

“Speech therapy videos from Peachie Speechie’s SLP, Meredith Avren!

Meredith has authored many workbooks about speech sound disorders and this channel was created to provide extra support to speech-language pathologists, their clients, and parents of children with communication disorders.” Visit Peachie Speechie on YouTube

“Super Duper® Publications’ Handy Handouts are free, online educational handouts on a variety of special needs and educational topics.

Master’s level speech-language pathologists and special educators research and write each one.“ These handouts include even more information about speech sound disorders and fun, creative ways to practice speech sounds at home with your little one! Check it out: Handy Handouts Search Results – Articulation and Phonology

A developmental Overview for Speech Sound Production Milestones

Check out: How Does Your Child Hear and Talk?

Identifying Early Signs of Speech-Sound Disorders

Check out: Identify the Signs

In-depth Description of Articulation/Phonological Therapy Techniques and Procedures

Check out: Articulation Therapy Guide


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.). Speech sound disorders. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Retrieved March 23, 2022, from

Phonological Graphic: Bowen, C., & Cassidy, C. (2015). Developmental Phonological Processes. IT’S ALMOST NEVER APRAXIA: Understanding Appropriate Diagnoses of Speech in Early Intervention. Talks on Tuesdays Webinar. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from

Expressable. (n.d.). Speech Sound Disorders. Expressable Online Speech Therapy | Speech Sound Disorders. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from

Articulation Graphic: Sander (1978)., & Cassidy, C. (2015). When are Speech Sounds Learned. IT’S ALMOST NEVER APRAXIA: Understanding Appropriate Diagnoses of Speech in Early Intervention. Talks on Tuesdays Webinar. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from

Snyders, N. (2015). Speech-Language Therapy Explanation Handouts for Parents and Teachers. SLPNatalieSnyders. Retrieved March 23, 2022, from