What is an Articulation Disorder?

What does it mean when a speech language pathologist (aka speech therapist), reports that your child has an articulation disorder?

It implies that he or she has difficulty producing certain sounds, resulting in errors.

What's an Articulation Disorder photo

What is an Articulation Disorder?

The following are some common articulation errors:

  • Frontal lisp – the tongue tip is placed too far forward (between or against the teeth); this commonly occurs with /s/ and /z/ but may also occur with /t/ , /d/ and /n/ in more severe cases.
  • Lateral lisp – occurs with /s/ and /z/ when the air flows inappropriately over the sides of the tongue.
  • Substitution – sounds are replaced with incorrect ones, so “t” is produced instead of “th”
  • Omission or deletion– necessary sounds are deleted in words, so “bat” becomes “ba”
  • Nasalization -oral sounds (like k and g) are produced with excessive nasal resonance.
  • Pharyngeal fricative – the sound like /h/ is produced in the pharyngeal or throat area

These errors can occur for a variety of reasons. They may be related to muscle weakness/paralysis or to structural problems such as cleft palate, dental deviations, or tongue thrust. Hearing loss, even mild, from ear infections at a young age may also negatively impact a person’s ability to produce correct sounds. This is because he or she cannot correctly perceive or hear specific sounds. However, sometimes individuals have articulation disorders in the absence of any structural abnormalities or hearing impairments. These errors may persist because they have habituated the wrong articulatory pattern.


Kimberly Scanlon, M.A. CCC-SLP is a speech language pathologist, an author and a mother. As the owner of Scanlon Speech Therapy, LLC, a unique boutique practice in Bergen County, Kimberly embraces individuality and treats the whole person. Her goal is to spread compassion, hope, and some speech, language and literacy tips one moment, one person at a time.  Her first book, My Toddler Talks: Strategies and Activities to Promote Your Child’s Language Development and her second book, Learning to Read is a Ball are available for purchase at online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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