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Articulation & Phonology

Articulation and Phonological disorders are known as "functional" speech disorders, which are characterized by errors in the way speech sounds are pronounced. Articulation errors are specific to single sounds; phonological disorders affect multiple sounds based on production patterns. It is often difficult to cleanly differentiate between articulation and phonological disorders; therefore, these two types of errors are often generally referred to as "speech sound disorders."


Signs and symptoms of functional speech sound disorders include the following:

  • omissions/deletions — certain sounds are removed from a word (e.g., "ba" for "ball" or ""top" for "stop")

  • substitutions — one sound is substituted for another (e.g., "ting" for "sing", or "cap" for "cat")

  • additions — one or more sounds are inserted into a word (e.g., "buh-lack" for "black")

  • distortions — sounds are altered or changed (e.g., "ship" for "sip", or "wabbit" for "rabbit")

  • syllable-level errors — weak syllables are deleted (e.g., "tephone" for "telephone")

These errors are different than having an accent or dialect.


There are many different methods of treating functional speech sound disorders; choosing an approach must start with a detailed assessment to determine patterns and context of errors. The speech-language pathologist will analyze this information and create an individualized plan to address them based on cause, variety, and complexity or errors as well as personal factors (e.g. treatment may begin focused on certain words the individual must say often or are important, such as their own name). For detailed information regarding the various approaches for functional speech disorders, see ASHA's resources on articulation and phonology.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (n.d.). Articulation and Phonology (Practice Portal). Retrieved Jan, 18th, 2023, from Speech Sound Disorders: Articulation and Phonology (

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