An Articulation Disorder is a developmental disorder or delay caused by structural differences of the speech-sound articulators (e.g., jaw, tongue, lips, teeth, palate, soft palate) or by misuse of these structures when producing speech-sounds. As children mature and gain greater control over the fine motor movements required for speech, articulation– the ability to accurately produce speech sounds– typically improves. However, when a child is unable to correctly articulate sounds that are developmentally expected, intervention is often required. Articulation disorders can persist into adulthood or be acquired later in life due to conditions such as stroke, brain injury, or head/neck cancer.
Articulation skills are assessed using standardized tests that compare a person’s speech to that of age and gender-matched peers. Additional assessment includes informal testing, observation, and extensive parent/patient interview.
Treatment of an articulation disorder includes the dynamic development of goals to target remediation of speech sound errors in age-appropriate and functional practice contexts. Treatment approaches are based on the principles of motor learning and developmental expectations. Home practice is imperative for optimal progress and to aid in the patient’s ability to use new skills outside of the clinic environment.