Phonological Process Disorder


Phonological Process

The act of speaking is a complex fine motor skill requiring hundreds of precise, planned, executed and coordinated oral motor movements for vowels and consonants. The tongue, lips, teeth, palate and jaw must all work together in a coordinated manner so speech can be intelligible. Children will gradually acquire adult speech patterns, with most children using what are called phonological processes.  Phonological processes are predictable patterns of sound errors that children use when they are learning to talk to simplify adult speech. For example substituting sounds made in the back of the mouth with sounds made in the front of the mouth using  (“t” and “d”) for  (“k” and “g”). (examples: saying “tup” for “cup”, or “das” for “gas”). Another process a child may use is Cluster Reduction whereby  part of a sequence of consonants is deleted (example: “pane” for “plane”).

When do phonological processes become a problem?

These processes are considered normal unless they persist beyond the age when most typically developing children have stopped using them. For example, if your child uses the phonological process of final consonant deletion at five years of age, that would be considered delayed since most children stop using that process by approximately age 3 years, 3 months.

A phonological delay may also be considered if the process the child is using is different than would be expected. For example, if a child leaves of all beginning sounds of words, it would be considered a delay because “initial consonant deletion” is not common in typical speech development. The excess use of phonological processes can also indicate a phonological disorder. When multiple processes are exhibited together it usually increases the child’s unintelligibility making them very difficult to understand.

How intelligible or understandable should my child be for a particular age?

The standard guideline is by two years of age should be 50% intelligible to an unfamiliar listener. By three years of age they should be 75% intelligible to an unfamiliar listener, and by 4-5 years of age they should be close to 100% intelligible.

What is the treatment for children with a phonological process disorder?

Your child needs to have a speech therapy evaluation to assess speech sound production.  Children’s speech therapy for phonological disorders usually involves targeting the phonological processes in error as determined by the Speech Language Therapist, auditory stimulation, coupled with more frequent treatment sessions, and specific practice at home.

Please call for more information if you live in the following areas: Broomfield, Lafayette, Louisville, Superior, Boulder, Westminster, Thornton or Arvada. Call: 303-856-8817