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Speech Articulation Disorder

Articulation disorders are difficulties with the way sounds are formed and strung together, usually characterized by substituting one sound for another (wabbit for rabbit), omitting a sound (han for hand), or distorting a sound (ship for sip). The main characteristic of the disorder are:

Omissions - Sounds in words and sentences may be completely omitted. i.e. "I go o coo o the bu." for "I go to school on the bus.".

Substitutions - Children do not pronounce the sounds clearly or they replace one sound for another. i.e substitutes [w] for [l] or [r], or other similar errors

Distortions - An attempt is made at the correct sound but it results in a poor production. i.e a distorted /s/ sound may whistle, or the tongue may be thrusting between the teeth causing a frontal lisp.

Additions - Extra sounds or syllables are added to the word. i.e animamal.

The most common error sounds are [s] [l] and [r].

The speech is primarily unintelligible and difficult to understand.

Articulation patterns that can be attributed to cultural or ethnic background are not disabilities.

Associated Features:

Developmental delay, is the cause of most articulation disorders. This can be the direct result hearing problem. The child cannot hear the fine differences between sounds, so speech perception is inhibited. Articulation disorders are also associated with overall delayed language development.

Differential Diagnosis:

Some disorders have similar symptoms. The clinician, therefore, in his diagnostic attempt, has to differentiate against the following disorders which need to be ruled out to establish a precise diagnosis. An articulation problem sometimes sounds like baby talk because many very young children do mispronounce sounds, syllables, and words.

Expressive Language Disorder.
Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder.
Phonological Disorder.
Apraxia of Speech.


In many cases, there is not a clearly identifiable, structural or physiological reason for the problem.

Delayed Speech.
Hearing Impairment.
Mental Retardation.
Learning Disability.

Articulation problems may result from brain damage or neurological dysfunction, physical handicaps, such as cerebral palsy, cleft palate or hearing loss. Or the condition may be related to lack of coordination of the movements of the mouth, even dental problems. However, most articulation problems occur in the absence of any obvious physical disability. The cause of these so-called functional articulation problems may be faulty learning of speech sounds.


A speech evaluation should be performed by a speech-language pathologist. If there is a problem with articulation that is not developmental in nature, speech therapy is recommended. Parent involvement is necessary for the best progress and prognosis. The length of therapy can vary from 3 months to a number of years, depending on the cause, the severity, the child's motivation, and parental support.

Counseling and Psychotherapy [ See Therapy Section ]:

Iindividual speech therapy sessions may be recommended as little as twice weekly or as often as daily.


DSM Code

315.9 Learning Disorder NOS

F80.0 Specific Speech Articulation Disorder

Disorder Sheets

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Recommended Book

Articulation and Phonological Disorders - Click Here to View


Speech Articulation Disorder

Misc Information


Development Disorders