Pediatric Speech Therapy For Speech Sound Disorders

Pediatric speech therapy for speech sound disorders | Aurora Speech Clinic Speech Therapy Occupational Therapy Clinic Aurora Newmarket York Region Ontario

As parents, we eagerly anticipate our child’s first words and celebrate each milestone in their development.

However, for some children, mastering speech sounds can be a challenging journey.

Speech sound disorders can affect a child’s ability to articulate sounds clearly and effectively.

Whether it’s difficulty pronouncing certain sounds or struggling with overall intelligibility, these challenges can impact a child’s communication skills and social interactions.

Treatment for a speech sound disorder from a speech and language therapist can help.

Here at Aurora Speech Clinic, our therapy team includes pediatric speech-language pathologists (SLPs) with an area of focus in speech sound disorders.

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the world of speech sound disorders in children, providing valuable insights for parents, caregivers, and educators alike.

From understanding the different types of speech sound disorders to exploring potential causes and treatment options, we aim to equip you with the knowledge and resources necessary to support your child on their speech-language journey.

Join us as we navigate through the intricacies of speech sound disorders, empowering you to advocate for your child’s communication needs and fostering a supportive environment where they can thrive.

What Is A Speech Sound Disorder?

Each language has a collection of sounds required to produce its words.

These are called phonemes.

English has 44 phonemes – some languages have more, while others have less.

A speech sound disorder, therefore, is a disorder related to the production of these speech sounds.

These disorders can manifest in various forms, including:

  • Substituting one sound for another
  • Omitting certain sounds
  • Distorting sounds
  • Adding extra sounds

Such deviations from typical speech development can significantly impede a child’s ability to communicate effectively with others.

Signs Of Speech Sound Disorders

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of speech sound disorders is crucial for early intervention.

Common indicators include:

Limited Speech Intelligibility: Difficulty being understood by others due to unclear speech.

Persistent Errors: Consistent substitution, omission, distortion, or addition of sounds beyond the age-appropriate range.

Difficulty with Sound Sequencing: Challenges in producing multisyllabic words or complex sound combinations.

Phonological Patterns: Regular patterns of speech errors, such as substituting all sounds produced at the back of the mouth with sounds produced at the front.

Frustration or Avoidance: Negative emotional reactions towards speaking or avoiding certain sounds or words.

It’s important to note that children develop their inventory of speech sounds over time.

For example, by about 18 months of age, most children are able to produce the speech sounds ‘p’, ‘b’, ‘m’, ‘h’, and ‘w’.

However, at that age, they’re unlikely to be able to produce sounds like ‘k,’ ‘ch,’ or ‘l.’

This doesn’t mean they have a speech sound disorder – it’s considered typical development.

If your child isn’t able to produce speech sounds appropriate to their speech and language developmental milestones, it may indicate a speech sound disorder.

Types Of Speech Sound Disorders

“Speech sound disorder” is an umbrella term used to refer to a number of different disorders.

Below you’ll find more information on each.


Dysarthria is a neurological speech disorder characterized by difficulties in creating speech sounds.

This is due to weakness, paralysis, or lack of coordination in the muscles used for speech.

Individuals with dysarthria may exhibit slurred speech, imprecise articulation, slow rate of speech, abnormal pitch or volume variations, and changes in resonance.

Dysarthria can result from various underlying causes, including:

  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Brain tumour

Often, however, the cause of dysarthria is unknown.

Articulation Disorders

An articulation disorder is a speech sound disorder that typically stems from problems with the articulators (e.g., your lips, tongue, palate, or jaw) which are essential for shaping sounds during speech production.

Articulation disorders typically manifest in a few different ways, including:

  • Substitutions: swapping certain speech sounds for others
  • Omissions: leaving out certain speech sounds altogether
  • Distortions: producing an inaccurate version of a speech sound
  • Additions: producing speech sounds that aren’t present in a word

Articulation disorders are considered functional speech sound disorders.

This means they have no known cause.

Phonological Disorders

Phonological disorders are similar to articulation disorders in many ways.

They’re both speech sound disorders, and they both result in difficulty producing certain speech sounds.

Phonological disorders are characterized by difficulties in organizing and using speech sounds within the sound system of a language.

Unlike articulation disorders that involve difficulties with producing specific speech sounds, phonological disorders involve challenges with understanding and using the rules that govern the sound patterns of a language.

Children with phonological disorders may exhibit patterns of speech errors, such as:

  • Substituting one sound for another
  • Omitting certain sounds
  • Simplifying complex sound combinations

These errors often persist beyond the typical age of development and can significantly impact the intelligibility of their speech.

Phonological disorders are also similar to articulation disorders in that they’re considered functional speech sound disorders.

As a result, the cause is generally not known.

Childhood Apraxia Of Speech

Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder that affects a child’s ability to plan, program, and execute the precise movements necessary for speech production.

CAS primarily involves difficulties in the neural pathways responsible for coordinating and sequencing speech movements.

Children with CAS may have inconsistent speech sound errors.

They may also have difficulty imitating speech sounds or producing them on command.

They may also have difficulty with transitioning between sounds and syllables.

Additionally, they may demonstrate limited progress with traditional speech therapy techniques.

CAS is believed to have neurological origins but the cause is frequently idiopathic or unknown.

RELATED: Speech Therapy For Childhood Apraxia Of Speech

what are speech sound disorders? | Aurora Speech Clinic Speech Therapy Occupational Therapy Clinic Aurora Newmarket York Region Ontario

How Do Speech Therapists Evaluate Children For Speech Sound Disorders?

Assessment for speech sound disorders involves comprehensive evaluation by speech-language pathologists (SLPs).

Diagnostic procedures may include:

Speech Sound Assessment: Analysis of speech sound production through standardized tests, informal observations, and spontaneous speech samples.

Oral Mechanism Examination: Evaluation of oral structures and functions to identify any anatomical or physiological factors impacting speech production.

Hearing Screening: Assessment of auditory function to rule out hearing impairments contributing to speech difficulties.

Language Assessment: Examination of language skills to determine the impact of speech sound disorders on overall communication abilities.

Parent/Caregiver Input: Gathering information from parents or caregivers regarding the child’s speech development, medical history, and communication challenges.

RELATED: Why Do Speech Therapists Emphasize Early Intervention?

How Can A Speech-Language Pathologist Help?

Pediatric speech therapy plays a pivotal role in addressing speech sound disorders by implementing tailored interventions.

Strategies may include:

Articulation Therapy: Targeting specific speech sounds through drills, practice exercises, and auditory discrimination tasks to improve accuracy and clarity.

Phonological Awareness Activities: Enhancing awareness of speech sounds, syllables, and phonemes through rhymes, games, and phonemic awareness tasks.

Auditory Discrimination Training: Training to improve the ability to differentiate between similar speech sounds, enhancing perceptual accuracy.

Parent/Caregiver Education: Providing guidance and strategies for facilitating speech and language development at home to reinforce therapeutic goals.

With CAS in particular, it is crucial to see an SLP with special training in this area and therapy is most effective when it is based on principles of motor learning versus using a traditional therapy approach.

Book Your Appointment With Aurora Speech Clinic Today

Aurora Speech Clinic offers specialized pediatric speech therapy services tailored to address speech sound disorders and other communication challenges in children.

Our team of experienced speech-language pathologists employs evidence-based practices to provide comprehensive evaluations and individualized intervention plans.

With a focus on collaboration with families and caregivers, we strive to optimize each child’s communication potential and enhance their overall quality of life.

Book your appointment with Aurora Speech Clinic today.

Aurora Speech Clinic
372 Hollandview Trail, #302,
Aurora, ON L4G 0A5

(905) 503-4321

Aurora Speech Clinic is located in Aurora, ON and offers personalized skilled intervention to those struggling with their speech and language skills. Services offered include screening, consultation, and comprehensive evaluation. We also provide one-on-one and/or group therapy for speech sound disorders, receptive/expressive language delay/disorder, stuttering/cluttering, accent reduction, and much more.