Friday, 20 August 2010

Speech problems

Speech sound problems can be very mild, where one or two sounds are affected or they can be extremely severe, so that the child is virtually unintelligible.

Some times its so hard to tell what a child is trying to say because the speech sound system is so different to 'normal'. However, it is possible to identify the processes which are going on in order to work out a programme of therapy. Sometimes more than one process affects a speech sound. Small Talk Speech & Language Therapy can assess and treat even the severest of problems. We also do a training course to identify these processes, show how sounds are made and to look at how to encourage correct placement/production. We get good feedback from parents, teachers and others who attend. They all say we need to know more about how we all make our everyday speech sounds and what can go wrong, so I thought it might be useful to look at some of these processes briefly here.

  • Fronting: This is where the  child uses the front of his mouth instead of the rear so that he might say 'tea' instead of 'key' or 'tar' for 'car'
  • Backing: This is the reverse of fronting and the most common  process seen in dummy users. 'Take' would become 'kake' and 'date' would be 'gake'
  • Stopping: This is where long sounds such as s, sh, z, f and v (fricatives) are shortened to a single 'stop' sound so 's' might be 'd', 'v' becomes 'b', and 'f ' may become 'p' or even 'd'.
  • Weak syllable deletion: where the child reduces words of more than 1 syllable e.g. 'skit' for 'biscuit', 'copter' for 'helicopter'.
  • Cluster reduction: where combined sounds are reduced e.g. 'bl' becomes 'r' or 'spl' becomes 'l'
  • Consonant deletion: This is where a child just misses off sounds usually at the ends of words but also at the beginning e.g. 'ob' for 'Bob', 'ar' for 'car'.
  • There are also other very immature processes which are entirely normal in very young children which might persist e.g. consonant harmony  where one consonant influences another e.g.  'coke' for 'coat' or reduplication 'mumu' for 'milk' .
Usually children with speech difficulties have more than one process affecting their speech at a time which can make understanding them very difficult. Therapists will work on the processes rather than the production initially.

If you want more detail about phonological processes, there's a really good article

If you are concerned about your child's speech please visit

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