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Shea McDonough

Voice & Diction


April 29, 2014
Disorders of Articulation in Children
The early years in a childs speech development can be quite cute and
comical. Parents often laugh and tell stories of their childrens verbal
blunders, such as pronouncing the word three as sri instead of ri. But
when should a childs inability to speak cause concern for parents? How does
a parent tell the difference between normal struggles in speech development
and a possible disorder of articulation?
In order to answer these important questions, parents first need to
comprehend articulation. Articulation is the use and movement of the lips,
teeth, tongue, alveolar ridge, soft palate, and hard palate in order to
produce speech sounds. A compromise or deformity of any of these
articulators can cause a disorder of articulation. Such deformities include a
cleft lip, cleft palate, underbite, overbite, and Ankyloglossia. Speech
disorders can also be caused by a loss of hearing, illness, as well as
developmental, neurological, and genetic disorders. These disorders may
include Autism, Downs syndrome, and Cerebral palsy. Thus, it is important

for parents of children with such disabilities or aforementioned deformities to


listen to their childrens speech patterns.
Disorders of articulation most commonly rear their heads in the form of
deleting, substituting, adding, and distorting sounds. Examples of
substituting and distorting include a child pronouncing the word red as

wd as opposed to rd. A child who deletes sounds may drop the final
letter of red and pronounce it as r. A child who adds sounds may
pronounce the word as rdg because of its similarities to another word in
that childs vocabulary. Instances like these should not automatically lead a
parent to panic. The English language is quite complex and difficult for even
some adults to fully grasp.
There are some general standards or guidelines for your childs speech
development to follow. By the age of three, most children should be able to
make h, w, m, n, b, p, and f sounds. The following year should come with it
the ability to articulate sounds such as d, t, k, g, and y. Six-year-olds should
be making l, v, sh, ch, and j sounds with ease. Once a child is about eight
or nine, it is expected that child is able to make all sounds correctly.

Parents should not stay silent if they are fearful that their child may
have a speech disorder. Children with speech impairments are often teased
by their peers, which can be quite detrimental during such an important time
in an adolescents development. Unfortunately, disorders of articulation
often carry the stigma that one is ignorant or unintelligent. So if your child
has a disorder of articulation, you should model proper speech for your child
and remain encouraging.