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Articulation Disorders

An articulation disorder is a difficulty or delay in producing one or more speech sounds.

Most children learn to produce the sounds of their language in an orderly way beginning with the easiest sounds to sounds that require more precision and fine motor control.  Usually the sounds produced by the lips, tongue tip and back of the tongue develop first. 

Many people have studied speech acquisition in children.  Although different languages have different sound systems, in general children learn to say the easiest sounds first. More detailed information about the acquisition of speech sounds can be found at


·   By age 3 years, a child who has normal hearing and who speaks American English should be able to produce the following speech sounds:  m, b, p, w.   In languages across the world, children say words such asmama, baba, papa, and wawa when they begin to talk.

·   By age 4 years, a child should be able to produce the t, d, k, g, f sounds.  Children should also be “closing syllables”.  That means that that they should be using Consonant + Vowel + Consonant words (e.g., cup, duck, night) clearly and easily.

·   By age 5 years, a child should be understandable to most people, even strangers

Tips for Parents:

  1. Start with your child'spediatrician to make sure your child's ears are clear of fluid.  Ask whether your child needs a hearing test.

  2. Request an evaluation from an ASHA certified SLP.

  3. Once you know your child'starget sound(s), help him find pictures or objects that begin with that sound.

  4. Make up a few contrastingword pairs that rhyme with that sound.  (e.g. socks - fox).  It is also fine to use nonsense words.

  5. Help your child practicediscriminating each word.  She does not have to say them yet, just hear the differences between each word.

  6. Carefully follow your SLP'srecommendations for home practice.

  7. Don't overdo speech practice!


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