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Artic' and Fono-what?

Why your child's speech therapist throws these terms around in relation to your child's speech problems (and why they don't recommend "try this at home"...)

It's incredible to watch our children's remarkable journey towards speech accuracy and the birth of their words as their language develops.

However, as cute as, "My wike wahwies!" is at two years old, it's not so fun at 10. (That was, "I like lollies!" by the way.)

But have you ever wondered what the differences are between common terms like 'pronounce', 'annunciate', 'articulate' and 'clarity'? Are there differences when it comes to speech sound difficulties? Why on earth does my speech pathologist keep harping on about articulation hierarchies and phonological processes?

Two words frequently appear in speech therapist's vocabulary:

"articulation" and "phonology."

Understanding the difference between these terms can help us support and encourage our littlies as they blossom into effective communicators.

Articulation - The Building Blocks of Speech:

Articulation refers to the way sounds are formed by the mouth, lips, and tongue to produce speech.

It involves the precise coordination of numerous muscles and structures involved in the production of speech sounds. Articulation allows our children to express their thoughts, needs, and desires more effectively. When children learn to master articulation, they acquire a repertoire of speech sounds that form the foundation of their communication abilities.

From the early babbling stage, where they experiment with different sounds, to the later stages where they can clearly articulate words and phrases, we witness their remarkable progress throughout this journey.

Phonology - The Power of Sound Patterns:

Phonology, on the other hand, relates to the study of sound patterns in a language. It explores the rules and patterns that govern the use and organization of speech sounds within a particular language.

While articulation focuses on producing individual sounds, phonology describes how these sounds come together to create meaningful words and sentences in 'legal' patterns.

Phonological skills enable children to understand and apply rules for combining sounds and using them effectively to express their ideas. As they grow, children naturally learn to recognize and differentiate between sounds, allowing them to grasp the complexity and richness of their language.

So What?

Articulation and phonology are closely interconnected, working together to shape children's speech skills. And difficulties with either (or both!) require different approaches from the speech pathologist.

Have a child who can say "s" but snake becomes "'nake?" Yeah, an artic approach isn't going to work with that.

Seek professional guidance if you have concerns about your child's speech. Don't be tempted to "fix it" yourself.


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