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What is speech?

Stacking Blocks

Speech is the complex act of producing sounds and words. There are three important components to speech production: articulation, voice and fluency. Articulation is the way we produce speech sounds using our articulators (lips, tongue, soft palate and teeth). Voice is how we use our vocal folds and breathe support to make sounds. We use our vocal folds and breathing to control pitch, volume, tone, and other qualities of our voice.Fluency refers to the rhythm or smoothness, rate, and effort in joining sounds together to make words, phrases or sentences in connected speech.

What are speech disorders? 

Speech disorders occur when an individual has difficulty producing sounds in words and connected speech (speech sound disorder), has dysfluent speech (stuttering) and/or when their voice quality (pitch, volume, tone) are impacted. 

What are
Speech Sound Disorders?

Between the ages of 4 or 5, most children are able to produce all speech sounds and be understood with 90-100% intelligibility in conversation. Speech sound disorders occur is 9% of children and more likely to occur in children with a family history of this condition. There is no known cause, however, recurrent middle ear infections (recurrent otitis media) can impact speech & language development. Children with speech sound disorders can exhibit behavioral issues as a result of their inability to communicate effectively. Parents/caregivers may see that their child is no longer using sounds or words they once had. Children with an articulation disorder may also have trouble understanding spoken language, as well as difficulties with reading and writing.


Early diagnosis and treatment for speech sound disorders is important to prevent and limit worsening of the condition, impacts on communication, literacy and overall academic success. 

Are there different types of speech sound disorders? 


Articulation disorder is a type of speech sound disorder that affects the way a person produces an individual sound or sounds. Children will often substitute one sound for another, omit sounds, or distort sounds in words and connected speech. 

Phonological disorder is a speech sound disorder in which a child has difficulty organizing the rule based, sound patterns of their language past their expected age of development. Common phonological errors are fronting, stopping and final consonant deletion. These errors impact more than one sound. 

Articulation and phonological disorders commonly co-occur. 

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