Speech Disorders

Speech disorders affect the pronunciation of sounds.

For example, a child may have good vocabulary and understanding of language, but when he or she talks, it is difficult to understand what he or she is saying.

Articulation Disorder

An articulation disorder is when someone does not say specific sounds correctly. He or she may substitute a sound for another sound (Say /w/ instead of /r/), make a distortion of a sound, or not say a sound at all.

Of course, some errors are normal. A 3 year old will not say /r/ correctly since it is a later developing sounds. However, a 3 year old should be able to say /m/ and /b/. 

To review which sounds a child should have mastered by a certain age, please refer to this chart: Articulation Chart.


Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a motor speech sound disorder. A child with CAS has difficulty planning and saying certain speech sounds.

The “motor planning” part of the brain is not communicating correctly with the lips and tongues. The child may have difficultly saying sounds accurately or even initiating speech. 

Click here for more information on speech disorder: CAS. It is a bit  technical and geared towards speech language pathologists, but it has lots of good information!


Fluency disorders or stuttering is not really a speech disorder but since most people consider it to be...I put it here! I thought you might find the answers you need. 

Fluency is how "fluid" a person can talk or read. A child who has trouble with fluency or stutters may have one or more of the following: 

  • Part-word repetition: "ba...ba...back" 
  • Sound prolongation: "bbbbbbbback"
  • Interjections: "um um um back um"

Almost everybody will stutter at one point or another in their life and that is NORMAL. When stuttering starts to impact communication, it becomes a disorder.

Who is at risk?

  • A family history of stuttering
  • Stuttering 6 months or longer
  • Onset after 3 years of age

Will my child outgrow it?

Most children who stutter before the age of 3 will outgrow it before the age of 4 without any intervention.

How to help your child today?

  • Give your child time to answer, don't pressure
  • DON'T finish a child's sentence or word
  • Keep the conversation going

Therapy Options

Speech therapy can be quite helpful for treating stuttering. Each therapy program will be individualized to each child depending on his/her stuttering behavior and secondary physical behaviors (if there are any!).

Some examples are:

  • Slowing down rate
  • Relaxing Muscles
  • Controlling breathing (I find this the most helpful!)

How common are speech disorders? What causes them?

A speech sound disorder is quite common from ages 3-8 years old. The cause is not always known but some risk factors include:

  1. Family history of a speech disorder
  2. Chronic ear infections 
  3. Hearing Loss
  4. Developmental Disorders
  5. Neurological Disorders

Why does my child need therapy?

Some children need help learning how to say certain sounds even if they don't have any of the risk factors listed above.

They don't outgrow it.

Speech therapy is HIGHLY recommended since speech sound disorders can put a child at risk for:

  1. Behavioral issues due to frustration of not being understood
  2. Social issues, feeling different or being teased
  3. Reading difficulties
  4. Writing difficulites
  5. Academic learning difficulties

Questions or Concerns About Your Child?

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› Speech Disorder


  1. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.).Retrieved on June 2, 2013 from http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/speechsounddisorders.htm
  2. The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America. (N.D.) Retrieved on June 2, 2013 from http://www.apraxia-kids.org/guides/slp-start-guide/.