What is articulation?
Articulation is the physical production of sounds. An articulation disorder occurs when the child is unable to physically produce the sound and needs to be taught where to place their articulators (lips, teeth, tongue) and how to regulate airflow through their vocal tract in order to make the sound. This is called place and manner of articulation.

What is phonology?
Phonology demonstrates the patterns of distinctive sound contrasts in a language. A phonological disorder occurs when a child's speech displays a distinctive pattern of speech error. This is called a phonological process. Example of a phonological process: 'fronting' of the 'k' sound, where the child produces a 't' sound at the 'front' of the mouth instead of a 'k' sound at the 'back' of the mouth.

What is typical speech sound development?
The Speech Development Chart below provides a rough guideline as to the ages that sounds should develop in a child's speech sound system. Please take into account individual variation between children.
 2 – 3½ Yrs:         m n h p b w t d g y k

3½ – 4½ Yrs:      f l ch sh j s z

5 – 6 Yrs:               r v

7½ – 8 Yrs:           th (voiced & voiceless)

Bowen, C. (1998). Developmental phonological disorders. A practical guide for families and teachers. Melbourne: ACER Press.

Children can also display phonological processes (patterns of speech errors) in their speech. These can be age appropriate errors initially but can develop into a speech disorder, which requires speech therapy.

What should I do if I think my child is behind in his/her speech sound development?
If you are in doubt about your own child's speech sound development, an assessment by a Speech Pathologist is recommended. During the assessment, the Speech Pathologist will conduct a detailed analysis of your child's speech, determining if there is indeed an articulation disorder or phonological disorder present.