Speech production disorders are expressed as an inability to correctly articulate sounds. Every child makes mistakes as they learn to pronounce a language, but these mistakes are usually self-corrected with time and practice. A child with a speech production disorder remains unable to pronounce sounds correctly past a certain age.
Common expressions of speech production disorders are:
There are different milestones for when children should be able to pronounce certain sounds. By age 3 a child should be 90% intelligible by both familiar (family members) and unfamiliar listeners (people in the community). Mild articulation problems should resolve themselves around second grade. Working with a speech-language therapist, the overwhelming majority of children overcome their speech production disorders easily and thoroughly.
Just because a child produces sounds that are atypical does not necessarily mean they have a speech disorder. Children with accents or children whose parents have accents, for instance, are more likely to pronounce words a little differently than their peers. Varied accents are a natural and beautiful part of language.
Likewise, people who speak certain dialects have specific differences in the pronunciation of some words. For example, people who speak the dialect African American Vernacular English (AAVE) may say “dis” instead of “this.” People speaking the dialect Hawaiian Pidgin or Eastern New England English are both more likely to say “cah” instead of “car.” Children using the dialects of their families or communities do not have a speech production disorder.
The distinction of speech disorders is that the child is incapable of making certain sounds or forming certain words, despite being trained to say those words a certain way.
We perform all evaluations in our office, and make the process comfortable and easy for each child. Most of the activities they will do are play-based.
After conversing with the child, a speech-language pathologist conducts an oral peripheral exam to verify that the mouth muscles are working correctly. The child may also take a formal articulation test. If the pathologist determines speech therapy is needed, he or she will work with you to arrange a program tailored to your child’s age and skill level. Some programs are focused on training for sound articulation, while others are focused on training the child to recognize the differences between sounds.
The evaluation session takes 45-60 minutes. Evaluations can be performed in English or Spanish.