As children grow, they learn that language is how we communicate.
They can learn the meanings of words, and imitate those same sounds themselves in order to be understood.
However, some children don’t learn at the same pace as others.
With these children, they may simply have difficulty pronouncing the sounds – hence the need for speech therapy for articulation disorder.
But all children say things incorrectly sometimes.
How can you tell the difference between a genuine articulation disorder, and a kid who’s just not quite getting a few words right?
Let’s take a look at what an articulation disorder is, and what it isn’t.
What Is Articulation Disorder?
Children mostly learn sounds in the same order.
Early on, they learn sounds like p, m, and w.
These are simple sounds for a baby to make – it’s just mouth shapes, with little use of your tongue or teeth (or lack thereof, if you’re a baby)
It’s not until later that they’ll learn z, v, th, and other more complex sounds.
By four years of age, most children will be able to pronounce almost all speech sounds correctly.
If they can’t, it might be a sign of an articulation disorder, also called a phonological disorder.
What Causes Articulation Disorder?
In some cases, genetics has to do with it – if you or your co-parent has an articulation disorder, it’s more likely your child will.
Boys also seem to deal with this issue more often than girls.
In other cases, it can have to do with a physical issue, like a cleft palate, or poorly formed jawbones or teeth.
It can also be a result of brain or nerve damage, as in the case of cerebral palsy or head trauma during birth.
In some cases, we know that it has to do with the brain not sending through messages to the speech muscles properly.
This is called apraxia of speech.
When these same speech muscles function properly, but are merely weak, it is called dysarthria.
Other reasons for speech issues can be side-effects of specific conditions, syndromes, disorders or injuries.
Unfortunately, though, for many cases of articulation disorder, we can’t pinpoint a cause.
Is It Articulation Disorder Or Just Baby Talk?
Children are not only in the process of learning, they also have creative minds that don’t always follow the rules of normal speech.
However, there is a difference between your child assuming a character’s ‘voice’ and being unable to pronounce words properly for a medical reason or a learned reason.
Children are already difficult enough to understand, because they may leave out or substitute words or sounds.
As their speech muscles learn to form the right shape to create words, they may make a ‘w’ sound instead of an ‘r’ sound.
Children often leave out entire sounds or syllables, such as saying ‘nana’ instead of ‘banana’.
This is common amongst young children.
However, there comes a point where you should look into speech therapy for your child.
In fact, it’s best to book an appointment for your child as soon as you suspect a problem.
Studies have shown that the longer a child goes without speech therapy for a speech disorder, the more difficult it will be to correct their speech disorder.
If your child is showing any of the following signs, it’s a good idea to book an appointment:
- If your child is speaking less or seems to be embarrassed by their speech issues
- If they are still difficult to understand by the age of four
- If they are challenged making certain sounds still at the age of six
- If they are still skipping or changing specific sounds by the age of seven.
How Can A Speech Therapist Help With Articulation Disorders?
A speech therapist is a trained, licensed professional who can help you navigate severe or mild speech problems that your child might be experiencing.
The speech therapist will identify sounds are difficult for your child to pronounce, and they will help them get it right by showing them how to use their tongue or lips correctly.
They will then craft goals for your child to work on, and will keep track of progress during sessions.
For example, they may help your child pronounce the ‘k’ at the end of kick.
Speech therapy is able to help improve many speech problems, especially if started earlier in a child’s life.
Book An Appointment With District Speech
Have you noticed your child can be difficult to understand, or perhaps you and the rest of your family are the only ones who can understand them?
Call now and book an appointment with District Speech.
Communication is too important a gift to waste.
1300 I St NW, #400E,
Washington, DC 20005
District Speech and Language Therapy specializes in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy solutions, for both children and adults, in the Washington D.C and the Arlington Virginia areas.