The most common speech problem in children consists of difficulty with producing the sounds of the language, commonly referred to as an articulation or phonological disorder. For some of these children, their articulation problem can be the result of physical reasons such as cleft palate, hearing loss, or poor dentition, but for the great majority there is no known cause.
The prevalence of speech sound disorders in children is approximately 5%. These children comprise the great majority of a speech pathologist’s caseload. Reports estimate that articulation disorders are more prevalent in boys than girls, with about a 2 to 1 ratio. For 80% of these children, their articulation problems are sufficiently severe to warrant clinical treatment. In some cases, certain sounds may be omitted from the child’s speech pattern. In others, it may appear as though the child is substituting one sound for another, for instance “tat” for “cat”.
The number of errors in a child’s speech pattern will affect their ability to be understood. Poor articulation skills in kindergarten children have been shown to result in lower literacy scores. Research has shown that children with articulation disorders have poorer achievement in reading, writing, and spelling. Articulation and phonological disorders can also result in shyness, and a loss in self-confidence and self-esteem.
The longer an articulation problem persists, the more likely it is that it will become habitual. Children actually internalize rules for correct sound production, along with accurate oral movements and an awareness of those words that contain the correct sound. Persistent articulation errors, however, only occur in 1 to 2% of older children who have received speech therapy. Therefore, as with most problems, early diagnosis and treatment are paramount to remediation.
Dr. Albert Oratio is the director, founder, and principal Speech-Language Pathologist at Monmouth Center for Communication Disorders. He earned his Ph.D. in Speech Pathology from Bowling Green State University. His credentials also include both licensure in the state of New Jersey, and the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
This article appears in the May 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings Magazine Monmouth Ocean edition. Click here to subscribe, thanks :)