You may have heard the terms ‘articulation’ and ‘phonology’ thrown around by your Speech Pathologist, or seen these terms written in a report. But what do these terms really mean? And what does these mean in terms of what speech therapy sessions will look like with your child?
Articulation refers to the way we move our tongue, lips, teeth and palate to produce sounds. For some children, organising these movements and be difficult. As a result, their sounds can be distorted (e.g., /s/ produced with a lisp). Other children may struggle to say a particular sound, and so they swap it for another, for example swapping “r” for “w” (e.g., saying “wabbit” for “rabbit).
So, what can speech therapy look like for children with articulation difficulties?
Therapy will often take a drill-based approach, aiming to reinforce a new way of making a sound. The speech pathologist may trial various ways to support your child to say a sound correctly. This could include;
- Modelling (e.g., “Watch my mouth, copy me”)
- Placement cues (e.g., for the /s/ sound, “Close your teeth, keep your tongue inside!”)
- Verbal cues (e.g., “Where’s your snakey sound?”)
- Visual or Gestural cues (e.g. use of a mirror, hand cues etc.)
Phonology refers to error patterns in children’s speech. For example, a sound made at the back of the mouth, like “g” or “k”, is substituted for a sound made at the front of the mouth, like “d” or “t” (e.g., saying “dod” for “dog” or “tat” for “cat”). Some patterns are common to children’s speech and are age-appropriate, however it is expected that patterns eventually resolve by a certain age.
So, what can speech therapy look like for children with phonological difficulties?
When children have patterns in their speech, therapy tends to work on teaching kids the sound rules. It often involves raising their awareness of the chosen sounds, and supporting them to understand and implement the new, correct pattern of saying their words (e.g., using “k” instead of “t”, so words make sense!).
Children can display a mixture of both articulation and phonological speech errors. A speech pathologist will be able to analyse your child’s speech errors and select the most evidence-based approach to support your child to improve the clarity of their speech.
If you have any questions or queries about your child’s speech, contact us today!