What are Speech Sound Disorders (SSD)?

Speech sound disorders (SSD) are deficits in communication in which an individual experiences difficulty in expressing phonemes correctly. It is an umbrella term which is the difficulty in phonological expressions (phonological impairment), childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), childhood dysarthria, articulation and inconsistent speech disorder. These issues could be either a result of a motor or a sensory cause.

Often, there’s no known cause behind a speech sound disorder. But some of these disorders may be triggered by:

  •         Development or thinking disability
  •         Brain injury
  •         Hearing loss or problems with hearing caused by past events like ear infections
  •         Disorders impacting the nerves involved in speech
  •         Physical problems affecting speech, like cleft lip or cleft palate

It’s important to notice the signs and symptoms of SSDs and differentiate them from cases that aren’t disorders. For instance, a child and his father may sound different because the father has an accent or dialect. This doesn’t mean the child has a speech sound disorder. Again, it’s normal for young children to utter the wrong sounds sometimes. Thus, a child making a “w” sound instead of an “r” and pronouncing “wabbit” for “rabbit” or leaving sounds out of words, say uttering “nana” for “banana” is acceptable when he’s young. But it could be a problem if he continues making these mistakes as he gets older.

Most English-speaking children develop specific sounds by a particular age. Those learning more than a solitary language may develop some sounds earlier or later. For instance, by three months, children begin making cooing sounds. By the time they’re 5-month old, they start laughing and making playful sounds. By six months, they make speech-like babbling sounds (such as ba, da, or puh). By the time they’re a year old, their babbles start containing longer strings of sounds (such as upup, mimi, or bababa). By the time they’re 3-year old, they can say b, d, f, g, h, k, m, n, p, t, and w in words, and familiar people are able to comprehend the child’s speech.

If parents believe their child is showing a delayed development of sounds or has a speech sound disorder, they should get the child tested by a speech-language pathologist (SLP). The SLP will listen to the child at first to hear how he produces sounds. The professional will also notice how the child moves his jaw, lips, and tongue and examine his language skills. Additionally, the SLP can help decide if the child has a speech problem or speaks with an accent. It’s crucial to note that accents aren’t a speech or language disorder.

An SLP can suggest suitable treatments to help the child say sounds clearly and correctly. Such treatments could include

  •         learning the right way to produce sounds;
  •         practicing sounds in diverse words or longer sentences; and
  •         learning how to identify when sounds are wrong or right.

For parents, it’s also important to get the child tested for hearing loss because a child with such a condition will find it troubling to learn to talk.

Choose your Reaction!