Articulation or Phonological Disorder, How to Tell the Difference!

If you and others are having a difficulty time understanding what your child is saying and they are demonstrating speech sound errors, your child likely has an articulation or phonological disorder. Don’t let the long names or the word “disorder” intimidate you! These are simply referring to the intelligibility (or clarity) of your child’s speech and can be remediated by a speech-language pathologist. Here is a great chart to follow:





If your child is producing some speech sound errors beyond what is typical for their developmental age, and are considered “mildy” unintelligible, it is likely an articulation disorder.

Articulation Disorder- strategies for home carryover

1)      Practice your child’s speech sound being targeted in therapy in a mirror!







2)      Practice your child’s speech sound in a book! This will increase their awareness of the targeted sound. Find books from your local library that have repetitive words with the appropriate speech sounds to target. (For example, if the sound is /g/, try “Go Dog GO!” by P.D. Eastman)







3)      Draw attention to your mouth while speaking and use cues to your mouth so that the child can follow your cues for correct speech production on the targeted sounds.







If your child is “highly” unintelligible due to an excessive use of phonological processes that are typical for development, then it is likely a phonological disorder. Please refer to the phonological processes chart from the American-Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) here:

Phonological Disorder- strategies for home carryover

1)      If your child is deleting final speech sounds in words,  make a “snake” down your arm with your pointer finger and “stop” the snake to mark the final speech sound.







2)      To increase awareness of speech sounds, hide your mouth using a small piece of paper and say a targeted word (with the speech sound targeted) correctly and correctly to see if your child can hear the difference and ask them to give you a “thumbs up!” or “thumbs down” to that word with the speech sound. (pic as follows) For example, say “ship” and “sip” if the child is having a difficult time producing the /s/.








3)      Minimal pair practice- using rhyming words that have the initial speech sound being substituted with the appropriate production. For example, if a child is producing the s/z, you would have the child say “sip” and “zip” or “sap” and “zap” so they can feel the difference of productions and increase their awareness of productions and practice the sounds.


At ABC, our ASHA certified and licensed speech-language pathologists can help remediate speech sound errors. Learning through play is crucial to your child’s development and we provide a sensory-enriched experience to allow for kids to target their speech sounds in a fun, play-based approach!  Please visit our website for answers to your questions.



Developmental Checklist

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