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.

Definition of Speech Disorders

Speech disorders are defined by difficulties with motor production (moving articulators), perception (recognizing correct sound production/sound patterns) and phonological representation of speech sounds. If a child has a speech disorder, their intelligibility will be affected.

In layman terms: Speech disorders occur when someone does not say specific sounds or sound patterns correctly. He or she may substitute a sound for another sound, make a distortion of a sound, or not say a sound at all.

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

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

Causes/Types of Disorders

Unknown Etiology:

  • No known cause (most common)

Motor-Based Disorders:

Underlying Medical Condition:

  • Ear infections
  • hearing loss
  • cleft lip

Risk Factors For Developing Speech Disorders

  • Complications during pregnancy or delivery
  • Male (sorry boys!)
  • History of frequent ear infections
  • Thumb-sucking and/or extended pacifier use
  • Fussy, intense personalities
  • Family history of speech and/or language disorders
  • Low parental education
  • Lack of meaningful language exposure in the home
  • High use of screens (TV, phones, tablets, computers)

Does my child need articulation therapy?

Well....that is hard to answer since I don't personally know your child.

If you have any concerns, it is ALWAYS better to know what is going on so: 

  1. Find a local speech language pathologist and schedule a screening/evaluation
  2. If you live in the west Chicago suburbs, call US and SCHEDULE an appointment!

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 difficulties
  5. Academic learning difficulties

Evaluations: What To Expect

To learn more about what exactly an evaluation for a speech disorder entails, click here.

Therapy: What To Expect

Articulation therapy will look quite different depending on the age of your child and their unique results of their speech therapy evaluation. 

To learn the basics of speech therapy for speech disorders check out:

Home Practice

I will say this A LOT here but home practice is CRUCIAL if you want any progress to be made. 

At Speech Therapy Talk Services, we have some options for you today:

  1. On our Word Lists page, there are links to word lists at the end. On each word list, there are tips on how to produce each sound and some functional practice ideas.
  2. Join us! Become a member for ONLY $5.99 and have instant access to hundreds of pages of materials for each possible sound in English and Spanish.
  3. Check out our Articulation Materials and Guide eBook for a step-by-step guide for each sound, functional games, flashcards, and more!

Other pages you might be interested in

Articulation Therapy

Speech Evaluations


Phonological Disorder

› 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/.