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Home > Events & Health Information > Diseases & Conditions > Learning & Behavioural Problems > Speech Sound (Articulation) Disorders

Speech Sound (Articulation) Disorders

About The Condition   Causes   Signs And Symptoms
Diagnosis And Treatment Options   Tips


What Are Speech Sound (Articulation) Disorders

Speech sound disorders are conditions where a child’s articulation or pronunciation is delayed or deviant from normal speech sound development. There are five speech sound disorders that children may encounter:

  1. Organic Speech Sound Disorder

    Articulation problems that are associated with structural abnormalities/known impairments such as cleft lip and palate, hearing impairment, brain injury, etc.

  2. Functional Speech Disorders

    Difficulties in learning to make specific speech sounds.

  3. Developmental Phonological Disorders

    Disorders that affect the child’s ability to develop easily understood speech patterns.

  4. Developmental Apraxia of Speech

    Difficulties planning oral movements to produce speech sounds.

  5. Developmental Dysarthria

    Motor speech disorder involving problems with strength and control of the speech musculature. Dysarthria is typically seen in cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, etc.


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Causes Of Speech Sound (Articulation) Disorders

The precise causes for functional speech disorders, developmental phonological disorders and developmental apraxia of speech are unknown.


Developmental dysarthria is caused by impaired nerve and muscle function.


Some conditions such as cleft palate, hearing impairment, certain syndromes, tongue-tie, paediatric stroke etc. will affect children’s clarity of speech.


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Signs And Symptoms Of Speech Sound (Articulation) Disorders

A child with a speech disorder may have one or more of these signs and symptoms:

  • Omissions or deletions

    Certain sounds are not produced but omitted or deleted. For example, "cu" for "cup" and "poon" for "spoon".

  • Substitutions

    One or more sounds are substituted, which may result in loss of phonemic contrast. For example, "dood" for "good" and "wabbit" for "rabbit".

  • Additions

    One or more extra sounds are added or inserted into a word. For example, "buhlack" for "black”.

  • Distortions

    Sounds are altered or changed. For example, a lateral "s".

  • Whole-word errors

    Weak syllables are deleted. For example, "tephone" for "telephone".

  • Syllable-level errors

    A syllable is repeated or deleted. For example, "dada" for "dad" or "wawa" for "water".

  • Prosody errors

    Errors occur in stress, intensity, rhythm, and intonation.


These difficulties do not apply to children of all ages. It needs to be inappropriate for the child’s developmental age.


Source: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)


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Diagnosis And Treatment Options For Speech Sound (Articulation) Disorders

A child with unclear speech needs to be carefully assessed by a speech therapist to find out what type of speech disorders he or she has. Other medical or allied health professionals might need to be involved in the assessment and management as well.


Each speech disorder receives a different type of treatment and each treatment programme is individually tailored to the needs of the particular child.


Parents play an important role in the therapy process by doing follow-up therapy, activities or work at home to ensure that the child will benefit from therapy.


Click here to find out more about our Division of Developmental and Behavioural Paediatrics.


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Tips For Taking Care Of Children With Speech Sound (Articulation) Disorders

Generally, children learn to produce different speech sounds gradually. Below is a general guide of speech sound development (consonant sounds):

  • At 2 years: p, m, h, n, b, w, y, d
  • At 3 years: t, k, g, f, ng
  • At 4 to 5 years: sh, s, j, ch, l, r, z
  • At 6 years and above: v, th, st, sp, sl, and other groups of consonant blends.


All children make predictable pronunciation errors when they learn to talk like adults. Generally, by 18 months, a child’s speech is normally clear 25% of the time.


By 24 months a child’s speech is normally clear 50 to 75% of the time. By 36 months a child’s speech is normally clear 75-100% of the time.


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Our Team

We have a team of paediatricians specialising in developmental and behavioural paediatrics, psychologists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, learning support educators, nurses and social workers committed to providing holistic care for children with developmental, learning and behavioural difficulties.


Click here to find out more about our Division of Developmental and Behavioural Paediatrics.


The information provided on this page is meant purely for educational purposes and may not be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified healthcare provider before starting any treatment or if you have any questions related to your child’s health, physical fitness or medical conditions.