Speech Sound Disorders: Articulation vs. Phonological

The term Speech Sound Disorders includes both Articulation Disorders and Phonological Disorders.  According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA), Articulation Disorders occur when a child is having difficulty producing one or more sounds.  A child might substitute a different sound for the target sound, leave off the target sound, or change the sound altogether.  In contrast, a Phonological Disorder occurs when a child has difficulty producing a type or pattern of sounds.  For example, a child might have difficulty with all sounds made at the back of the mouth (velar sounds) and substitute front of the mouth sounds instead (e.g., “Tup” for “Cup”).

Phonological Processes or patterns do occur in typically developing children.  While it is common to see difficulties with sounds and sound patterns in development, it is not typical for a child to continue having difficulty with sound patterns beyond a certain age.  The chart below details common Phonological Processes and the age at which children typically stop using those processes:

Gone by age 3:

  1. Pre-vocalic voicing (“big” for “pig”)
  2. Word-final de-voicing (“pick” for “pig”)
  3. Unstressed Syllable Deletion (“nana” for “banana” or “tato” for “potato”)
  4. Reduplication (syllable is repeated twice, e.g., “baba” for “bottle”)
  5. Fronting (sounds made in the front of the mouth are substituted for sounds that should be made in the back of the mouth, e.g., “take” for “cake” or “see” for “she”)
  6. Final consonant deletion (“hou” for “house)
  7. Assimilation (one consonant in the word influences another, e.g. “mime” for “mine”)
  8. Stopping (fricative or “long” sounds are replaced by stopped sounds, e.g., “toup” for “soup” or “dop” for “shop”)

Gone by age 4:

  1. Cluster Reduction (leaving off one consonant in a cluster, e.g., “top” for “stop” or “lace” for “place”)

Gone by age 5:

  1. Gliding (substituting the /w/ or /y/ sound for /r/ or /l/ sounds, e.g., “yeg” for “leg” for “won” for “run”)

Persistent Processes that should be gone by age 7:

  1. Epenthasis (inserting an extra vowel into a word, e.g., “balack” for “black”)


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

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