Speech & Language

There are several types of speech-language disorders that a child may have. Listed below are the most commonly addressed speech-language disorders in children.

Speech sound disorders occur when a child makes mistakes producing speech sounds which are typical for their age. Speech sound disorders include problems with articulation (making sounds) and phonological processes (sound patterns).

Articulation disorder involves problems making sounds that should be appropriate for a particular age. This may be due to difficulty moving the tongue, lips, teeth, and/or jaw in order to produce each sound. Errors may be observed when producing sounds in isolation, words, sentences, or conversation.

Phonological process disorder involves difficulty understanding the rules of combining sounds to form words, resulting in patterns of sound errors. Some of the most common phonological processes observed in children include:

  • Final Consonant Deletion: Leaving final consonant sounds off of the end of words (e.g., "cu" for "cup")
  • Cluster Reduction: Eliminating one or both sounds in a cluster, occurring at either the beginning or end of words. (e.g., "poon" for "spoon" or "mas" for "mask").
  • Fronting: Substitution of a sound typically produced in the back of the throat for a sound made in the front of the mouth. (e.g., "tap" for "cap" or "dum" for "gum")
  • Syllable Deletion: Deletion of one or more syllables in a word. (e.g. "nana" for "banana")

Language disorders

Language disorders occur when a child demonstrates difficulty understanding language and/or has difficulty expressing themselves.

Understanding - receptive language
  • Understanding what gestures mean
  • Understanding concepts
  • Following directions
  • Understanding vocabulary
  • Answering questions
  • Identifying objects and pictures
  • Taking turns when talking with others
Talking - expressive language
  • Asking questions
  • Naming objects
  • Using gestures
  • Expressing wants and needs
  • Putting words together to make sentences
  • Learning songs and rhymes
  • Using correct pronouns like "he", "my", or "they"
  • Knowing how to start a conversation and keep it going


Common speech disorders include articulation. Following are some easy tips for home that you can incorporate to enhance speech sounds:

  • Be sure to label items within the environment. This will facilitate expansion of vocabulary.
  • Comment on every day activities or talk about what you are doing
  • Engage child in finger plays, rhymes, songs.
  • Have child imitate facial expressions and movements with tongue and lips in a mirror. This increases awareness of the mouth and how to make different sounds.
  • During play with your child, model and encourage use of environmental and animal sounds.
  • Read to your child, encourage labeling of pictures and identifying pictures when named
  • Encourage use of gestures, pointing, and sign language to facilitate child's attempts at communication.

There are also a variety of language disorders. Whatever the difficulty may be, there are several activities you can utilize in your daily routine to assist in improving your child's receptive and/or expressive language skills:

  • Comment on daily activities - it is important to remember that children must first understand language before they will utilize language.
  • Label objects throughout their environment to improve vocabulary skills.
  • Acknowledge all attempts to communicate; repeat what you understand.
  • Reading to your child and having child 'read' a familiar story to you, as well as having child identify/point to pictures & objects in books to increase vocabulary skills.
  • Allow child to fill-in the blank to familiar songs, nursery rhymes, and finger plays.
  • Provide choices to your child; whether it be which food for snack or which color shirt to wear.
  • Engage in play with your child; talk about what the child is doing and ask questions during play.
  • Encourage your child to follow directions during play and within their daily routine.
  • Engage in imaginative play activities.
  • Engage in turn-taking games.
  • Use family photographs to talk about past events and build sentence structure.
  • Pause after speaking to your child to allow them to continue to the conversation.
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