No-Nonsense Guide to Speech Sound Disorders

May 11, 2020 | Blog

As children learn to talk, they are learning how to move their articulators (lips, tongue, teeth, hard palate, etc.) to form sounds which form words. This is a complex process! Today we are going to break down the basics by learning what it means when there are errors in speech.

Speech Sound Development

Starting at an early age you’ll notice that your child begins making sounds. As they grow, they’ll understand that sounds have meaning, especially when combined to form words.

Sound Development Chart 2

Speech Sound Disorders

When kids have persistent difficulty saying words or sounds, they might have what is known as a Speech Sound Disorder (SSD). A few errors here and there are typical, however, if other people outside of your family have difficulty understanding your child or if you notice the same patterns over and over, it might be an SSD. Check out the chart below to see when most kids are understood by unfamiliar listeners (anyone outside of immediate family).

Intelligibility 2

Types of Speech Sound Disorders

You might hear SSDs referred to as an “articulation disorder” or “phonological process disorder.” These are two types of SSDs that have no known cause.


An articulation disorder involves errors producing certain sounds. There are four different types of articulation disorders:

  • Substitution: Replace a sound with another sound (“wabbit” for “rabbit”)
  • Omission: Deleting a sound in a word (“pay” for “play”)
  • Distortion: Producing a sound in an unfamiliar manner (a lisp with “s” sound)
  • Addition: Adding an extra sound within a word (“doguh” for “dog”)

Phonological Process Disorder

A phonological process disorder refers to a pattern of errors in words. There are quite a few of these but here are some examples:

  • Final Consonant Deletion: Delete final consonant off of words (“foo” for “food”)
  • Stopping: A sound like ‘f’ or ‘s’ is substituted with ‘p’ or ‘d’ (“pan” for “fan”)
  • Fronting: A sound made in the back of your mouth is substituted for a sound made in the front (“tootie” for “cookie”)
  • Backing: A sound made in the front of your mouth is substituted for a sound made in the back (“gog” for “dog”)

What’s Next?

Well I just bombarded you with a bunch of information. I know it’s a lot! If you notice any of these errors in your child’s speech, or they’re just difficult to understand, reach out to an SLP in your area! That’s what we are here for. We can provide you with more specific information about your child after completing an evaluation. Most SLPs also provide screenings which can give you a better idea if an evaluation is even necessary.

Still have questions? Leave a comment below or send a message straight to my inbox!

Alyssa Dudley, MS CCC-SLP

Owner, The Child Inspired