Articulation Disorder Specialist

Speech Success

Jacqueline Ahrens, SLPD, CCC-SLP

Pediatric Speech Therapist located in Emerson, NJ

Children gradually learn to pronounce different sounds starting from about one to eight years old. If your child doesn't master all sounds by the expected age, they may have an articulation disorder. Jacqueline Ahrens, SLPD, CCC-SLP, at Speech Success helps parents determine if their child's articulation is age-appropriate, delayed, or disordered. When needed, she provides customized therapy that teaches children how to make the right sounds. To learn more about services for articulation disorder, call the office in Emerson, New Jersey, or book an appointment online today.

Articulation Disorder Q&A

What is an articulation disorder?

An articulation disorder occurs when your child can't produce the sounds or produce them properly. As they learn to speak, all children go through phases where they mispronounce certain sounds. But they should improve as they reach developmental milestones. 

Children are diagnosed with an articulation disorder if they still can't say certain sounds correctly within the age range when most children acquire that skill. Another articulation problem called sound distortion occurs when children perform the wrong movement with their mouth and tongue. One of the most common examples of a distortion is a lisp.

What is a phonology disorder?

A phonology disorder is a rule-based issue. This means that a child is applying a rule to their words. For example, with the process of cluster reduction, a child will remove a sound from all clusters in words. This means the word “play” would be said “pay.” 

What increases a child's risk for articulation disorders?

Conditions that increase a child's risk of developing an articulation disorder include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Developmental disorders (autism)
  • Genetic disorders (Down syndrome)
  • Nervous system disorders (cerebral palsy)
  • Frequent ear infections
  • Cleft lip or palate

Excessive pacifier use or thumb-sucking could lead to articulation disorders by pushing the teeth or jaw out of place.

What signs signal a phonological processing disorder?

Children often have a difficult time pronouncing certain letters, such as r, l, and s. Beyond these individual letter challenges, you may notice that your child:

  • Confuses similar sounds (saying “far” instead of “car”)
  • Drops the first or last consonant (saying “un” instead of “sun” or “dah” to mean “dog”)
  • Leaves off sounds (saying “coo” instead of “school”)
  • Adds sounds to words (saying “pulay” rather than “play”)
  • Substitutes sounds (saying “thun” instead of “sun”)
  • Simplifies a word by repeating syllables (“baba” in place of “bottle”)
  • Says just one syllable (“bay” instead of “baby”)

How are articulation disorders treated?

Articulation therapy teaches your child how to make the appropriate sounds one step at a time, beginning with one simple sound, then using that sound in syllables, and finally words.

Though it's important for children to practice saying words and sounds, Dr. Ahrens goes to the root cause of the problem. She teaches children how to make the proper sounds by showing them how to position their mouth and tongue and the movement of those structures needed to produce the desired sounds.

If your child has trouble articulating sounds and words, call Speech Success, or book an appointment online today.