Early Childhood Intervention: Module Two – Special Needs & Conditions

Children with Articulation Difficulties


Articulation Delay/Disorder is an atypical production of speech sounds created by sound substitutions, omissions, additions, or distortions. This may interfere with a parent’s ability to understand what the child is saying. The child may make sound substitutions: a child at age 6 will say “wabbit” instead of “rabbit” and “thwim” for “swim.”

Difficulty with some sounds is common for children under the age of 8. Articulation disorders can often be successfully treated with speech therapy.

Children develop speech sounds in a fairly predictable sequence, however the age of onset for these sounds can vary from child to child.

For example:

  • A three year old might say “nana” for banana or “tar” for car:
  • A four year old might say “sanwit” for sandwich;
  • A five or six year old might say “wed” for red.

Age ranges when correct sounds should appear:

p,b,d,t,m,n,w,h By two years*
k,g,f,v,ing, By four years*
s,z,ch,sh,j, l By five years*
r,th By six years*

By 7 years of age a child should master all these sounds.

  • Articulation delay: When the child acquires the sounds in the expected sequence but the developmental errors persist beyond the age we expect.
  • Articulation disorder: When a child’s error patterns and/or sound acquisition sequence are different from most children their age.
  • Phonological disorder: When a child’s error patterns are more severe and affect an entire group of sounds with similar characteristics.

Intervention Options:

In all cases, a referral to a Speech Language Pathologist is suggested.

To learn about articulation disorders in the middle childhood years, please visit the six to 12 part of this course.


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