A speech sound disorder might look like:

  • Being unable to form one or a few specific sounds
  • Being unable to form sounds consistently
  • Having trouble combining sounds into words
  • Using a sound in the wrong word or context

Here at Aurora Speech Clinic, we offer speech therapy treatments including treatments for speech sound disorders.

If you’re looking for support and treatment for a speech sound disorder, Aurora Speech Clinic is a speech language pathology clinic serving the Aurora and Newmarket areas, and we’re here to help.

Below, we take a closer look at a few speech sound disorders and their symptoms, causes, and treatments.

What Is A Speech Sound Disorder?

There are many different types of speech sound disorders. In general, all speech sound disorders involve difficulty producing speech sounds, which can result in difficulty being understood.

Speech is a complex motor skill, involving the coordination and control of various muscles and body parts involved in producing sound.

Just like other motor skills, such as walking or playing an instrument, speech requires precise timing, sequencing, and fine motor control.

When we speak, our brain sends signals to the muscles of the diaphragm, vocal cords, tongue, lips, and jaw.

These muscles work together to produce the desired sounds and articulate words.

The coordination required for speech involves the precise timing and sequencing of muscle movements, allowing us to produce a stream of sounds that convey meaning.

Speech sound disorders occur when some of these parts are not doing their job correctly.

Speech sound disorders can be the result of issues with the muscles or with how the brain is sending out signals.

Speech sounds disorders can occur in children as well as adults.

In children, the cause of speech sound disorders is most often unknown, though some may be caused by an underlying medical diagnosis (e.g., cleft lip or palate, cerebral palsy, etc.)

Some adults have speech sound disorders that have been present since childhood while others develop a disorder later in life. This can be a result of injury or illness like a traumatic brain injury, stroke, or cancer.

Articulation and Phonological Disorders

In articulation disorders, individuals have difficulty producing specific speech sounds due to incorrect placement, timing, or coordination of the articulatory structures (e.g., lips, tongue, jaw). This can lead to distorting, substituting, or deleting certain sounds altogether.

If your child has a lisp, for example, they might say ‘thick’ instead of ‘sick’, substituting ‘s’ with ‘th’.

Phonological disorders involve difficulties in understanding and organizing the rules governing speech sounds.

When learning to talk, children use specific patterns to simplify the words they say, making speech easier.

A phonological disorder refers to the use of patterns that are not typically seen while a phonological delay refers to use of a pattern past a certain age.

Whether it be an articulation or phonological delay or disorder, your pediatric speech therapist or adult speech therapist will listen to you or your child to identify errors in speech patterns.

From there, they will use speech therapy tools, exercises, and activities to reduce or eliminate errors.

Childhood Apraxia Of Speech (CAS)

Childhood apraxia of speech is a motor speech disorder characterized by difficulty planning and coordinating the movements necessary for accurate speech production.

Speech therapists identify childhood apraxia of speech through comprehensive evaluations.

From there, we can provide therapy that focuses on improving speech motor planning and coordination skills.

Childhood apraxia of speech can be genetic, the result of a brain injury, or most commonly, idiopathic – due to an unknown cause.

Consider taking your child to see a speech therapist if they show some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Using vowels incorrectly
  • Stressing the wrong syllable in a word
  • Difficulty moving smoothly from one sound to another
  • Difficulty imitating words that others say
  • Making speech errors inconsistently
  • Demonstrate groping movements with their jaw, tongue, or lips as they speak
  • Separating syllables within one word

Some signs of childhood apraxia of speech are common to other speech sound disorders.

These symptoms include:

  • Infrequent babbling as an infant
  • Starting to speak late
  • Being difficult to understand
  • Often leaving out specific sounds
  • Speech sounds limited to only a few vowels and consonants

If your child shows signs of apraxia of speech, working with a speech therapist with additional training in CAS can make a significant difference.

Early intervention in childhood apraxia of speech can have a positive impact on learning and development as your child grows.

A speech therapist can offer help with childhood apraxia of speech in a several ways:

  • Assessing your child’s speech production, oral motor skills, and language abilities
  • Testing to rule out other potential causes of symptoms
  • Providing additional sensory input to help your child develop their speech skills
  • Improving their oral motor planning and coordination skills
  • Exploring augmentative and alternative communication methods
  • And others

Acquired Apraxia Of Speech

Like childhood apraxia of speech, acquired apraxia of speech involves neurological difficulties in controlling speech.

While the symptoms and treatments for acquired and childhood apraxia of speech are similar, their causes are different.

Acquired apraxia of speech is usually the result of illness or injury later in life.

Acquired apraxia of speech can impact your articulation, fluency, and rate of speech.

The symptoms of acquired apraxia of speech include:

  • Being unable to form distinct sounds
  • Using distorted or additional sounds when forming words
  • Speaking more slowly overall
  • Adding extra syllables or repeating syllables in words
  • Emphasising the wrong syllables or all syllables equally
  • Using the wrong consonants in words
  • Stretching out sounds of words
  • Dropping or merging syllables in words
  • Repeating a single syllable or a sequence of syllables rapidly
  • Halting speech
  • Having a hard time starting to speak

Speech therapy offers many ways to improve speech abilities for people with acquired apraxia of speech.

Speech therapy can help you recover some of your speech skills or find alternative ways to control speech or communicate.


Unlike apraxia of speech, dysarthria is a speech sound disorder linked to the physical ability to produce speech sounds.

Dysarthria involves issues with the muscles used in speech, whether in the lips, throat, tongue, face, or all these areas.

If you or your child has mild dysarthria, there may be a few sounds you are unable to produce. A severe case of dysarthria, on the other hand, may make it very difficult to communicate using speech.

Some common symptoms of dysarthria:

  • Choppy, halting speech
  • Having a raspy voice
  • Slurring when you speak
  • Mumbling
  • Speaking very quickly
  • Speaking with a very nasal tone

Dysarthria can be passed on through your genes, or it can be the result of a neurological condition or brain injury.

Some examples of illness and injury that can lead to dysarthria include:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Brain tumor
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury

Speech therapy has many possible benefits for people with dysarthria.

Depending on the symptoms and severity of your dysarthria, a speech therapist may be able to work with you to:

  • Strengthen your speech muscles
  • Make your pronunciation clearer
  • Develop better coordination and control of muscles involved in speech
  • Speak with a louder voice
  • Find alternative ways to communicate
  • Regulate how quickly or slowly you speak

Book Your Appointment With Aurora Speech Clinic Today

Speech sound disorders can create a lot of difficulty communicating and being understood.

Luckily there are many effective speech therapy treatments to address a wide range of speech sound challenges.

You may see signs of a speech sound disorder in your growing toddler, or you may have acquired one yourself later in life.

Whether a speech sound disorder is acquired or congenital, mild or severe, there are speech therapy solutions that can help.

To help yourself or your child be heard and understood, 

book your appointment with Aurora Speech Clinic today