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Fun Facts Friday

Elementary and Middle School Mayhem: Articulation Station

Welcome to our Elementary and Middle School Mayhem series. During the month of May, we will be featuring information to support children in elementary and middle school. We will be including information about a wide range of topics, so stay tuned on Fridays during the month of May for great tips and tricks!

Articulation Station

When children feel that they are misunderstood, they often become frustrated and may shy away from speaking in class or to friends. Children want to be heard and understood. Students of any age benefit greatly when they have confidence in their ability to clearly express their ideas.

What is articulation?

Articulation includes how sounds are produced using your tongue, teeth, and lips. It is also impacted by how your brain processes sounds and how it tells your mouth to move in order to create them.

Why doesn't my child pronounce sounds right? When should I be concerned?

Often the cause of mispronunciations is unknown. At times it can be due to a muscular issue, motor planning issue, or even a processsing issue. It is important to consult a speech pathologist if you do not understand what your child is trying to say, or if you are concerned that he or she is mispronouncing certain sounds.

Articulation disorders involve individual sounds that are either omitted, substituted, changed, or added. Some articulation errors are typical as your child learns how to manipulate their mouths to make new sounds. By 7 or 8, they should have most sounds, however, see the chart below for additional information.

Additionally, if you or other family members cannot understand what your child is saying, you should discuss your concerns with a speech-language pathologist.

A phonological disorder involves patterns of sound errors. For instance, when "k" and "g" (sounds produced in the back of the mouth) are changed to "t" and "d" (sounds produced in the front of the mouth). Some of these patterns of errors are typical as a child learns new sounds but if they persist beyond 6 or 7, it may be time to discuss your concerns with a speech pathologist.

Tell me about treatment sessions... How long are sessions? How frequently? How long will it take to "fix"?

The answers to those questions are highly dependent on the child, the number of sounds affected, and if there are any other contributing factors, such as apraxia or oromotor muscle weakness.

The frequency of speech sessions and outcomes depend on how many sounds are affected, why they are affected, and how long your child can attend to games and therapeutic activities. It also depends on how long a child has gone without treatment and whether he or she has developed habits to compensate for any difficulties. When a child has struggled to produce certain sounds for a period of time, they may use other muscles to try to compensate. For example, they may put pressure on their neck muscles, facial muscles, or their cheeks. These habits can be more difficult to break the longer a child uses them.

The incidence rate of articulation disorders is around 25% for children 5 to 7 years of age, according to the American Speech Hearing Association. There are a variety of treatment methods a speech pathologist may use. The duration and frequency of treatment may also depend on which methods work best for your child. For additional information, check out the American Speech Hearing Association's guidelines for treatment techniques or contact us here for a complementary consultation.

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