Articulation Disorder: Everything You Need to Know

Refers to a medical disorder associated with remarkable difficulty in phonating, i.e., making sounds that are needed for daily communication. Usually, an articulation disorder is linked to structural issues of the mouth or motor problems and impacts negatively on communication in class both for students and educators. Nonetheless, there are different methods through which teachers can provide help to students with these articulation disorders to help them achieve success.

There’re five types of articulation disorders. These include:

Organic speech sound disorder: These articulation problems are associated with known impairments or structural abnormalities such as cleft palate or lip, brain injury, or hearing impairment.

Developmental phonological disorder: This refers to difficulties using the right speech patterns. Examples include “dock” for “sock” or “tar” for “car.”

Functional speech disorder: This refers to difficulties in learning to produce specific speech sounds.

Developmental dysarthria: This is a motor speech disorder that involves problems with control and strength of the speech musculature. This condition is typically seen in kids with traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, etc.

Developmental apraxia of speech: This refers to difficulties coordinating and planning tongue, jaw, and lips to produce speech sounds.

The specific causes for developmental apraxia of speech, developmental phonological disorders, and functional speech disorders are unknown. Developmental dysarthria is caused by impaired muscle and nerve function. Some conditions such as hearing impairment, cleft palate, pediatric stroke, tongue-tie, etc., will affect a kid’s clarity of speech.

A kid with an articulation disorder may have one or multiple of the following signs and symptoms:

Deletions or omissions: Certain sounds aren’t produced but deleted or omitted. Examples include “soon” for “spoon” and “boo” for “book.”

Additions: One or multiple sounds are inserted or added to a word. Examples include “doguh” for “dog” or “buhlack” for “black.”

Substitutions: One or multiple sounds are replaced with a different sound. Examples include “wabbit” for “rabbit,” “dood” for “good,” or “bat” for “pat.”

Distortions: Sounds are changed or altered. An example is an interdental “s” where the “s” sound is being generated with the tongue sticking out in the middle of teeth.

Prosody errors: This refers to inappropriate use of rhythm, stress, intonation, and intensity during speech.

Syllable-level errors: A syllable is deleted or repeated. Examples include “te_phone” for “telephone” or “dada” for “dad.”

An assessment by a speech therapist is important to find out the type of articulation disorder a kid with unclear speech has. Other allied health or medical professionals might also need to be included in the assessment and management of the condition.