(Image: Speech Sound Disorder Classification and Causes – ASHA)
A child who is hard to understand compared to their peers might have speech difficulties. Speech difficulties can occur due to underlying structural differences to the anatomy (e.g. cleft palate), hearing impairment, or motor/neurological disorders. However, for most children with speech sound disorders and delays (SSDs) the cause is unknown.
A child with a SSD with no known cause will usually have a phonological impairment or an articulation impairment, or sometimes both. It is important for speech pathologists to work out the type/s of SSDs as different types require different treatment approaches.
Speech is very complex process and as young children are mastering this complex task, they will usually simplify the rules to make it easier. They may use certain “error patterns” such as leaving off the end sound of words (e.g. do for dog) or using sounds that are made towards the front of the mouth (t, d) instead of the back of the mouth (k ,g) (e.g. tat for cat).
Children learn how to produce individual sounds gradually. Some sounds develop earlier (e.g. p, b, d, t) and some sounds develop later (e.g. th, r).
SPs can conduct thorough examinations of a child’s speech sound skills to determine exactly what is going on and how to best tailor treatment to their needs.
For more information on the typical ages of acquisition of individual speech sounds and typical ages of elimination for different types of error patterns: https://childdevelopment.com.au/resources/child-development-charts/speech-sounds-developmental-chart/
McLeod, S. & Baker, E. (2017). Children’s Speech: An evidence-based approach to assessment and intervention.
Bowen, C. (2011). Table 3: Elimination of Phonological Processes. Retrieved from http://www.speech-language-therapy.com/
Written by Samantha Bolton Speech Pathologist
Blog posts are written by all members of the RSP team.