Phonological Processes

As children learn to talk, there are often times that we have difficulty understanding what they say. There are a number of complex steps between thinking a word and saying it clearly. The differences may be hard for parents to recognize, and it could be even more complicated to determine if it is normal speech development or not. Here is some information that may help determine if parents should seek a speech-language evaluation.

What is the difference between articulation and phonology?
Articulation refers to the motor act of a speech sound – all the movements that our articulators (lips, tongue, teeth) need to do to make the right sounds. Phonology refers to the ability to organize speech sounds into the patterns that form words.

Why can my child sometimes produce a sound correctly, and other times get it wrong?
Your child may display the use of sounds within certain words, but seem unable to produce the same sound in a different word. For instance, they say “Go!” but pronounce “doggie” as “doddie”. It is possible he or she is having difficulty with their phonology – or use of sound patterns within words. These difficulties are called phonological processes or patterns. Children display phonological processes in an attempt to simplify adult speech to an achievable level for them. It is not that they have trouble physically producing the sound, but that they are having difficulty organizing the sounds at the phonemic level in their brains.
Most phonological processes are considered to be age-appropriate for a certain amount of time as a part of speech development. Others are never considered typical, and may indicate a phonological disorder. Additionally, if a child continues to demonstrate patterns after a certain age, they are no longer typical and may implicate a need for remediation through speech therapy. Please click the link below for a detailed chart of phonological processes.

Phonological Process Chart

If you are concerned about your child’s speech, or have questions after reviewing this information, please email us at!

Leanne Sherred, M.S., CF-SLP