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Speech

Articulation

An articulation disorder refers to difficulty producing speech sounds beyond the age when one would expect a child to have learned these sounds.  Errors usually take the form of omissions (leaving out the sound), substitutions (replacing one sound with another) and/or distortions.  Articulation errors may impact on intelligibility ( the ability to be understood).  Most speech sound problems in children occur in the absence of any known physical problems. Speech sound errors may be the result of faulty learning of the sound system, hearing loss, and developmental delays.

Accents or dialects are not regarded as speech sound errors even if intelligibility is impacted.

Phonological Simplification Processes are developmental patterns that young children utilize to simplify the production of adult language.  One example is consonant cluster reduction, which occurs when a child reduces a consonant blend to a single sound (e.g. "tuck for "truck").  There are other examples of phonological processes (see articulation links below).  Many processes are considered developmentally appropriate until the age of five.
 
A child may be eligible for speech/language services if the speech disorder is unrelated to dialect, adversely affects educational performance and occurs beyond the age at which 90% of his/her peers have achieved mastery according to current developmental norms.
Auditory Processing

Auditory Processing refers to What we do with what we hear" (Dr. Jack Katz).  When a person has an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), his hearing is normal, but the connection between his ears and brain doesn't work smoothly or quickly enough.  As a result, someone who has been diagnosed with an APD may demonstrate the following:
  • difficulty following directions
  • difficulty understanding and participating in conversations
  • difficulty concentrating on background noise
  • difficulty remembering what he/she has heard
  • poor auditory discrimination skills ("hearing" differences among similar sounds)
  • poor auditory memory skills
  • poor listening
  • frequently say "huh" or "what"
Children who have APD may also have trouble learning vocabulary and grammar and may experience difficulty with phonemic awareness skills. This can significantly impact on his/her ability to read and spell since he is not able to clearly understand the sound-to-letter relationship.

During the course of a Language Evaluation, a Speech/Language Specialist can administer a screening test to determine if an APD is possibly impacting on your child's education.  However, an Auditory Processing Disorder can only be diagnosed by a licensed Audiologist after a battery of tests.  If you suspect that your child may have an Auditory Processing Disorder, please discuss your concerns with your child's teacher and your pediatrician.
Fluency

Stuttering is a speech disorder that affects approximately three million Americans. Nobody knows what causes stuttering, but current research indicates that it is caused by many different variables. Stuttering typically begins between the ages of two and five when speech and language abilities are developing very rapidly. While there is no cure for chronic stuttering, significant improvements can be achieved with intervention.

Fluency occurs when the pattern of speech flows in a smooth and rhythmic manner.  A disorder of fluency is characterized by a disruption in the flow of speech.  Everyone has dysfluencies from time to time.  A fluency disorder is characterized by speech that is more dysfluent than average.  There are two types of fluency disorders:

Stuttering manifests itself in repetitions, prolongations, and may be accompanied by struggle behaviors such eye blinking and heard jerking.
Cluttering is characterized by an excessively fast rate of speech, possible repetitions, unorganized structure of sentences and slurred or omitted sounds and syllables.

A child who is experiencing disruptions in his flow of speech may be eligible for speech/language services if dysfluency is negatively impacting the child's educational performance.