Disorders & Definitions

1. Articulation
Articulation Disorders are difficulties with the way sounds are formed and strung together, usually characterized by substituting one sound for another, omitting a sound, or distorting a sound.  The main characteristics of the disorder are:
  • Omission - Sounds in words and sentences may be completely omitted.  i.e., "I go o coo o the bu." for "I go to school on the bus."
  • Substitutions - Children do not produce the sounds clearly or they replace one sound for another.  i.e., substitutes [w] for [l] or [r], or similar errors.  e.g., "wabbit" for "rabbit"
  • Distortions - An attempt is made at the correct sound, but it results in a poor production.  i.e., a distorted [s] sound may be produced with the tongue thrusting between the teeth causing a frontal lisp or to the sides of the mouth causing lateral distortions of the sounds.

The most common errors are with the [s], [l], and [r] sounds. Many articulation errors are typical of pre-schoolers and children in kindergarten through second grade, and are usually not cause for concern.  If the errors persist into the intermediate grade levels or if speech is very difficult to understand, an evaluation may be necessary.

2. Language
Language disorders are difficulties with the process of putting sentences together.   These can involve problems with semantics (meaning of words), syntax (the order and combination of words to form sentences), and morphology (grammatical word forms such as adding an -s for plurals, adding -ed for past tense, etc.)

3.  Fluency
Fluency disorders are considered an interruption in the flow of speaking characterized by atypical rate, rhythm, and repetition of sounds, syllables, words, and phrases.  This may be accompanied by excessive tension, struggle behavior, and secondary mannerisms.

4.  Non-Verbal Speech Disorders
Some children who are non-verbal or highly unintelligible may need a method other than speech to communicate.  Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is used to provide another method of communication or supplement existing verbal skills.  AAC can include things such as a communication notebook with pictures to indicate wants and needs, verbal output devices, and sign language.