Speech and Articulation

What are speech skills?

Articulation skills are most commonly referred to as speech skills. Articulation refers to the process of two areas of the body touching to form speech sounds. When we speak, a set of very complex and coordinated movements allow us to form sounds which are understood by others. More than one hundred muscles have to contract and relax to begin and end each syllable. Consult our age checklists to learn more about age-appropriate skills.

Why do some people have trouble saying speech sounds clearly?

Individuals may mishear sounds due to permanent or fluctuating hearing loss. Frequent ear infections may cause inconsistent sound perception. Other individuals may be tongue-tied, have dental or jaw problems, structural problems, cleft palate, motor speech disorders, apraxia, or neurological injury or diseases. Sometimes the origin of speech difficulties is unknown.

What are some types of speech errors?

Speech or articulation errors occur when sounds are omitted, distorted, or substituted. When an individual omits, distorts, or substitutes sounds, their speech may sound garbled or slurred. Children who misarticulate sounds may develop spelling and reading issues as they struggle to match the printed letter with their mispronounced speech sound. Individuals at school, work, and in social situations may converse less with a person who is difficult to understand.

Phonological errors occur when the rules for groups or sound classes are in error. A young child may produce frontal tongue tip sounds such as “t” and “d” for all their back tongue sounds “g” and “k” (det for get, tate for take). They may produce all their blowing sounds “sh,” “ch,” “s,” “z,” as if they were stopping sounds “t”, “d” (ton for sun, doe for so). When individuals produce entire classes of sounds in error, their speech is often extremely difficult to understand, and both the speaker and listener may become very frustrated.

Children usually develop sounds in a normal progression. Consult our age checklists to learn more about age-appropriate skills.