These disorders are different from language disorders. In fact, they consist of difficulties in the production of one or more speech sounds. In certain children, the cause of these disorders may not be known and may appear without underlying physical or sensory disorders. In other cases, these articulation disorders may be secondary to certain factors, such as atypical swallowing, hearing loss or any deformity of the oral cavity (ex: missing teeth, cleft palate, dental malocclusion, etc…).These disorders usually appear in children before the age of 6 and may lead to repercussions in literacy and spelling if they persist.
some red flags?
Articulation disorders in children tend to
appear with the development of vocabulary. A certain sound may be thus absent
from the child’s language. For example, with difficulties with the pronunciation
of the sound « r », this sound has a tendency to be omitted at the
start of words (ex: “rope” becomes “ope”), at the end of words (ex: “car” becomes
“car”) and in the middle of words (ex: “brick” becomes “bick”). In other cases,
children might substitute the sound with another. For example, they might say “byic”
instead of “brick”.
It is normal to observe alterations with
certain sounds in children at the start of speech development. Nevertheless, one
should be alerted in the case of difficulties with articulation that persist
beyond the age of 4. Early consultation with a speech therapist is therefore
primordial, allowing the therapist to determine the proper moment to initiate
therapy based on the child’s maturity level. The evaluation will then allow to
pinpoint the exact cause of the articulation disorder, and to put forth a
treatment plan. In the case where an underlying issue exists, the therapist
will refer you to a specialist (ENT, dentist, orthodontist, plastic surgeon,
etc…) in order to treat the root cause. In such cases, the therapist’s role
would be in parallel to the specialist’s treatment. Practice and reinforcement
of articulatory problems would be put into effect. Moreover, the therapist
would guide the parents by providing them with the tools necessary to aid their
child on a daily basis.