Anna Rooney Speech Therapy

Anna Rooney Speech Therapy

Speech Sound Development

How Do Children Acquire Speech?

Speech is a complex process. It involves planning and producing a precise series of movements. The tongue, lips, teeth, palate, and jaw must all work together in a coordinated manner so that speech can be intelligible. Children gradually learn to acquire adult speech patterns. This gradual process is called phonological development.

Because speech is a complex process, most children use phonological processes. Phonological processes are predictable pronunciation "errors" (not errors) that children use when trying to learn to talk like adults. Children use phonological processes to simplify the adult sound system of English. Phonological processes are usually "gone" by the time the child is five years of age, but there is individual variation between children.

Some common phonological processes found in children's speech are Final consonant deletion (the final consonant is omitted: "ca" for "cat"), Cluster reduction: (part of a sequence of consonants is deleted: "pider" for "spider"), and syllable Deletion (the weak syllable is deleted: "nana" for "banana" or "teffone" for "telephone").

Anna Rooney Speech Therapy

When children use many phonological processes frequently, their speech is difficult to understand. This might be called a phonological delay, a phonological disorder, or a phonological impairment. Children who mispronounce one or a few sounds (e.g., say "w" for the r sound) have articulation disorders.

For more information about phonological development, please view the chart below:


Context sensitive voicing pig = big 3;0
Word-final de-voicing pig = pick 3;0
Final consonant deletion comb = coe 3;3
Fronting car = tar ship = sip 3;6
Consonant harmony mine = mime kittycat = tittytat 3;9
Weak syllable deletion elephant = efant potato = tato television =tevision banana = nana 4;0
Cluster reduction spoon = poon train = chain clean = keen 4;0
Gliding of liquids run = one leg = weg leg = yeg 5;0
Stopping /f/ fish = tish 3;0
Stopping /s/ soap = dope 3;0
Stopping /v/ very = berry 3;6
Stopping /z/ zoo = doo 3;6
Stopping 'sh' shop = dop 4;6
Stopping 'j' jump = dump 4;6
Stopping 'ch' chair = tare 4;6
Stopping voiceless 'th' thing = ting 5;0
Stopping voiced 'th' them = dem 5;0
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