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Why Phonological Processes are Essential for Kids' Speech Intelligibility

Phonological processes are essential for kids' speech intelligibility. Many parents may not be aware of the impact these processes have on their child's ability to be intelligible. This blog post will provide an overview of phonological processes and their importance in speech development. Parents who sparks interest in helping their children improve speech clarity should read this post!


In this article we will discuss:


Phonological Process Disorder gets support from family

What phonological processes?

Phonological processes are the patterns that people with phonological disorders use to simplify speech. These are normal in young children as they are learning to talk. Most children outgrow phonological processes by the time they reach school age. Each type of phonological process has a timeline when they should master it. However, some children continue to use phonological processes into adulthood.


There are many phonological processing examples that can impact a child's speech intelligibility. Some of the most common ones are below and their corresponding age of elimination.


Substitution

This is when a child replaces a sound with another sound. There are different phonological processing examples under substitution such as :

  • Backing: This is when a child produces a sound further back in the mouth than it should be. For example, the sound /d/ is replaced with /g/. This phonological process are for more severe phonological delays.

  • Fronting: This is when a a child produces a sound further forward in the mouth than it should be. For example, the sound /k/ may be replaced with /t/. A child masters this phonological process at 3.5 years old.

  • Gliding: This is when a child produces a liquid as a glide. For example, the sound /r/ may be replaced with /w/. A child masters this phonological process at 6 years old. Gliding speech therapy is not always necessary to correct this process, along with others.

  • Stopping: This is when a child produces a fricative with a stop. For example, the sound /f/ may be replaced with /p/. This phonological process is usually mastered depending on what sound they stop.

  • Affrication: This is when a child replaces a stop with an affricate. For example, the sound /t/ may be replaced with /ch/. A child masters this phonological process at 3 years old.

  • Deaffrication: This is when a child replaces an affricate with a fricative or a stop. For example, the sound /ch/ may be replaced with /t/. A child masters this phonological process at 4 years old.

Eliminate phonological processing disorders once for all

Phonological processing disorder can be eliminated with speech therapy.

Assimilation

This is when a sound changes to become more like another sound that is next to it. Assimilation speech therapy can help correct this process if it persists. There are different phonological processing examples under assimilation:

  • Final Consonant Devoicing: This is when a child replaces a final consonant with its voiceless counterpart. For example, the sound /b/ may be replaced with /p/. A child masters this phonological process at 3 years old.

  • Reduplication: This is when a child repeats a syllable or word. For example, the word “car” may be reduplicated to form “caca”. A child masters this phonological process at 3 years old.

  • Prevocalic Voicing: This is when a child makes a sound with the vocal cords before it should be. For example, the sound /p/ may be replaced with /b/. A child masters this phonological process at 6 years old.

  • Assimilation: This is when a child replaces a sound with another sound that is similar. For example, the sound /m/ may be replaced with /n/. A child masters this phonological process at 3 years old.

  • Denasalization: This is when a child replaces a nasal sound with a non-nasal consonant. For example, the sound /n/ may be replaced with /t/. A child masters this at 2.5 years old.

  • Coalescence: This is when a child replaces two sounds with one sound. For example, the child produces the sounds /s/ and /t/ for the word “stop” with the sound /f/ to form “fap.


Syllable Structure

This is when a syllable is simplified by deleting a sound or combining two sounds. Phonological processing examples under syllable structure includes:

  • Final Consonant Deletion: At 3 years old, a child masters this phonological process. This is when a child omits the final consonant. For example, the word “cat” may be pronounced as “ca."

  • Initial Consonant Deletion: This is when a child omits the initial consonant of a word. For example, the word “dog” may be pronounced as “og.” This is for more severe phonological delays.

  • Cluster Reduction: A child masters this phonological process at 4-5 years old. This is when a child reduces a consonant cluster. For example, the word “splash” may be pronounced as “spash.” Cluster reduction speech therapy may start by breaking the sounds down into sections as to prevent the "reduction".

  • Weak Syllable Deletion: A child masters this phonological process at 4 years old. This is when a child omits a syllable. For example, the word “banana” may be pronounced as “nana.”

  • Epenthesis: A child usually masters this at 8 years old. This is when a child inserts a sound into a word. For example, the word “flower” may be pronounced as “fuhlower.”

Why are phonological processes important?

Phonological processes are important because they help children learn to produce the sounds of their language. They also help children understand how to make words. Phonological processes can tell us a lot about a child's development. For example, if a child is using final consonant deletion, we know that they are able to produce most sounds except for final consonants. This can help us understand what sounds the child may have difficulty with. It can also help us understand how a child is learning to use their language. If a child is using a lot of phonological processes, it may mean that they are having difficulty understanding or producing certain sounds. It is important to remember that all children use it at some point in their development. It is only a concern if a child is still using phonological processes after the age when they are typically mastered.


Phonological Processing Disorder playing.

When is a phonological process considered a delay or disorder?

A phonological process delay when a child has a hard time mastering a specific phonological process. A child can have a phonological processing disorder if it affects a child's ability to be intelligible or if it affects their reading or spelling abilities.


Phonological Processing Disorder is a disorder in which a person has difficulty producing the sounds of their native language. Each language uses a specific set of sounds to form words. Each language also follows rules and speech patterns that dictates how sounds are put together to form words. People with phonological processing disorders have difficulty following these rules and patterns.

What causes phonological disorders?

There is no exact cause of phonological processing disorders. A common cause of phonological processing disorder can be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.


How to identify phonological processes in your child's speech

If you are concerned that your child may have a phonological disorder, there are some things you can look for:

  • Are they using any sounds that are not typical for their age or language?

  • Do they have difficulty producing certain sounds?

  • Do they have difficulty pronouncing long words or words with multiple syllables?

  • Do they tend to leave off the beginning or ending sound of words?

  • Do they insert extra sounds into words when they speak?

  • Do they simplify words by leaving out certain sounds?

If you notice any of these patterns in your child's speech, it is important to speak to a speech-language pathologist. They will be able to assess your child's speech and determine if there is a problem.


What is a speech evaluation?

A speech evaluation is an assessment of a child's speech and language skills. A speech-language pathologist usually conducts a speech evaluation. During the speech evaluation, the child will be answering many questions and performing a series of tasks. These tasks may include saying words, repeating phrases, or reading aloud. The speech-language pathologist will then use this information to determine the child's level of functioning. They will also look for any patterns or problems in the child's speech and language development. After the speech evaluation, the speech-language pathologist will be able to provide a diagnosis and recommendations for treatment.


Treatment for phonological processing disorder

The treatment for phonological disorders depends on the severity of the disorder. For milder forms of the disorder, speech therapy may help the child to learn to produce the sounds of their language correctly. For more severe forms of the disorder, speech therapy may not be enough. In these cases, other treatments such as medication or surgery may be necessary.

With early intervention and proper treatment, most children with phonological disorders can learn to produce the sounds of their language correctly. This can help to improve their ability to be intelligible for others and also help with their reading and spelling skills.


Speech Evaluation for Phonological Disorders

How to help your child overcome phonological processes

If your child has a phonological processing disorder, there are some things you can do to help them:

  • Encourage them to practice the sounds they have difficulty with. At home, help your child say words or read aloud. Emphasize the correct pronunciations of the sounds.

  • Make sure they are getting enough practice using the correct sounds. Have them listen to books on tape or watching shows that emphasize proper pronunciation.

  • Encourage them to use the correct sounds when they speak. Provide positive reinforcement when they use the correct sounds. Have realistic expectations for their progress. It is important to remember that treatment of phonological processing disorders takes time.

  • Make sure they are getting plenty of opportunities to hear the correct production of sounds. Listen to books on tape or watching shows that are appropriate for their age group.

  • Talk to their teacher about ways to help your child in the classroom. This may include sitting near the front of the class or having extra time to complete assignments.

  • Speak to a speech-language pathologist about other ways you can help your child at home.

With early intervention and proper treatment, most children with phonological disorders can overcome their difficulties and learn to produce the sounds of their language correctly. This can help to improve their ability to be intelligible for others and also help with their reading and spelling skills. At Better Speech, we offer online speech therapy services convenient for you and tailored to your child's individual needs. Our services are affordable and effective - get Better Speech now.


 

About the Author

Mikee Larrazabal


I am a Speech-Language Pathologist with 14 years of experience working with children and adults who have communication difficulties. I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science at Cebu Doctors' University and have been helping people overcome their communication challenges ever since.


I have worked with individuals of different ages, including toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, adults and seniors. I'm passionate about speech therapy and take great satisfaction in helping people overcome their communication challenges and improve their lives through better communication skills. In my spare time I like reading books, going hiking in nature and taking care of my dog Locas.

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