Speech and Articulation

By 3 years of age, children should be 75% intelligible to unfamiliar listeners.

By 5 years of age, children should be 100% intelligible to unfamiliar listeners.

Every parent wants their child to be able to communicate and be understood by others. Being able to articulate speech sounds is a major component of effective communication.

At Granite Bay Speech, we are experts in assessing and helping individuals improve their speech and articulation so that they become more confident speakers.

Our speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are skilled at providing assessments that identify a child’s specific areas of need and creating an evidence-based treatment plan.

How can I tell if there is a problem with articulation (pronunciation and talking)?

Children that have difficulties with articulation may:
• Produce speech that is difficult to understand even for familiar listeners (family).
• Become overly frustrated when trying to communicate with others.
• Have difficulty linking together more than one or two sounds.
• Tend to use only vowel sounds (very open mouthed noises).
• Produce speech that is unclear alongside dribbling and messy eating skills.
• Produces speech that is less clear than other children of the same age.
• Be school aged and still having difficulty saying several sounds.

Why should I seek therapy if I notice difficulties with articulation (pronunciation and talking)?

Speech Therapy can:
• Improve a child’s ability to produce clearer speech.
• Improve a child’s ability to be understood by others.
• Improve a child’s ability to engage positively with other children and adults.
• Facilitate a child’s interactions with familiar (e.g. family members, peers) and unfamiliar individuals.
• Reduce frustration in a child who struggles with getting their message across.
• Improve spelling and/or writing.

What can you do to improve your speech?

It’s never too late to change the way you speak. For adults, maturity and motivation often counteract long established speech muscle patterns. Speech sounds and accents may be transformed through individualized, confidential sessions at Granite Bay Speech.

Children usually develop sounds in a normal progression. For information on normal progression, please consult our age checklists to learn more about age-appropriate skills. If you feel your child has not reached the appropriate speech and language milestones for their age, we would love to consult with you. We can provide a personalized program for your family.

What is intelligible speech and how important is it for my child?

Speech intelligibly is how much of a person’s speech a listener can understand. For instance, if you can only understand half of what a child is saying then their speech intelligibility rating would be 50%. While speech intelligibility is expected to improve with a child’s age, it is also used as a measure of determining speech delays and speech disorders. If you are concerned with your child’s language or speech development, getting professional screening or evaluation can help to determine if your child needs treatment. Granite Bay Speech can help you determine if therapy is necessary.

Why do some people have trouble saying speech sounds clearly?

Individuals may mishear sounds due to permanent or fluctuating hearing loss. Frequent ear infections may cause inconsistent sound perception. Other individuals may be tongue-tied, have dental or jaw problems, structural problems, cleft palate, motor speech disorders, apraxia, or neurological injury or diseases. Sometimes the origin of speech difficulties is unknown.

Does my child have functional communication skills?

Functional communication refers to the most basic of communication skills.  This type of communication gets one’s basic wants and needs known, such as “I want that”, “I am hurt”, or “I need to use the bathroom”.  These are not complex thoughts and they are often the first types of messages that children begin to communicate.

For most children, functional communication begins to emerge in the first year of life with gestures and is expanded on in the following years with words and later, simple sentences.  However, for children with speech and language delays, this may happen much later and after seeking guidance from a Speech Language Pathologist.

Articulation vs. Phonological Processing Disorders

What’s the Difference?

An articulation disorder is the child’s difficulty with making individual speech sounds (phonetic/motoric level).  A phonological processing disorder is a child’s difficulty organizing their speech sounds into a system of sound patterns (phonemic level in their brain). Articulation and phonological processing disorders are often tossed together because they are both sound disorders. However, it is important to distinguish between the two as they are separate disorders and require individual needs.

Articulation Errors

Articulation errors are described as a substitution, omission, addition, and distortion. When this happens, speech may sound garbled or slurred. Children who misarticulate sounds may develop spelling and reading issues as they struggle to match the printed letter with their mispronounced speech sound. Individuals and adults at school, work and in social situations may converse less with a person who is difficult to understand.

Phonological Processing Errors

Phonological processing errors occur when the rules for groups or sound classes are in error. An individual may produce frontal tongue tip sounds such as “t” and “d” for all their back tongue sounds “g” and “k” (det for get, tate for take). They may produce all their blowing sounds “sh,” “ch,” “s,” “z,” as if they were stopping sounds “t”, “d” (ton for sun, doe for so). When individuals produce entire classes of sounds in error, their speech is often extremely difficult to understand, and both the speaker and listener may become very frustrated. An assessment may be needed to determine whether a child should enroll in therapy.

Tongue thrusts/Tongue Thrust Therapy

Tongue thrust and frontal lisp are commonly confused, as both result in a ‘th’ when attempting to produce the ‘s’ and ‘z’ phonemes. The frontal lisp is classified as an articulatory error, as the tongue is simply being placed incorrectly between the upper and lower front teeth during sound production. When an individual has a tongue thrust, the tongue’s position sits forward in the mouth at all times, even when swallowing and at rest. All sounds can be affected by this forward-sitting position, especially the ‘s’ and ‘z’ phoneme.

Tongue thrust is the most common Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder (OMD). Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders are anatomical and physiological differences of oral and facial structures (lips, teeth, tongue, jaw, cheeks, and palate) that are noticeably different; interfere with normal dentofacial, speech, physical or psychosocial development; or that are of cosmetic concern. These include lip and tongue rest, swallow, and speech posture differences. (Hale, Kellum, & Gross 1991). Granite Bay Speech provides a free phone consultation to answer your questions about any speech-related disorder.

If you have any concerns about your child’s speech, please feel free to contact us and talk with a Licensed Speech-Language Pathologist at no-cost.

Contact Us

My son had been in speech therapy for over seven years with other SLPs and was never able to make progress with his severe articulation disorder. After we saw Nancy she was able to correctly diagnosis him with cluttering disorder, which is a rare speech articulation issue. We finally had answers and could get our son the treatment he needs.

Heather C.

So knowledgeable in speech disfluencies. Understood my stuttering and all the factors that revolved around it. My speech has gotten incredibly better for it. Please, if you need Speech help, go to people who are passionate and willing to help you. I've been to many others and there is no better place than Granite Bay Speech!

Noel A.