Articulation disorders

Articulation means how an individual pronounces words.

Articulation disorder is when an individual has trouble pronouncing certain words/sounds making it difficult to be understood. According to articulation disorders focus on errors (e.g., distortions and substitutions) in production of individual speech sounds. The cause of articulation disorders is not known; however, some risk factors have been investigated.

Frequently reported risk factors can be due to gender (higher in males than females), maternal stress or complications during pregnancy, family history or even due to hearing loss.

The 3 categories of articulation disorders include:

  •  A speech sound disorder when mistakes continue past a certain age. Children typically acquire speech sounds in a developmental sequence. Some speech sounds such as r, l, and s are harder to say than others such as p, b, and m.
  • A phonological process disorder: When there are patterns of not saying words correctly.
  • A motor speech disorder: When the child has trouble moving muscles required to talk. There are two types of motor speech disorders: dysarthria and apraxia.


The broad term "speech sound disorder(s)" is used to refer to speech sound disorders, including those related to the motor production of speech sounds (articulation) and those related to the linguistic aspects of speech production (phonological).

It is often difficult to cleanly differentiate between articulation and phonological errors or to differentially diagnose these two separate disorders. Nevertheless, we often talk about articulation error types and phonological error types within the broad diagnostic category of speech sound disorder(s). A single child might show both error types, and those specific errors might need different treatment approaches.

Treatment for articulation includes:

  • Showing how to make sounds correctly
  • Helping your child recognize which sounds are correct and incorrect
  • Having your child practice sounds in different words

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