Speech Sound Problems

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What to expect

Speech sound problems

Speech sounds (phonemes) are the smallest unit of sounds which make up a word of a language. A speech sound problem is a difficulty in producing these sounds.

What is a speech sound problem?

A speech sound problem is where the speech sounds of an individual's language are not produced properly, not produced at all or not used correctly. There are two main types of speech sound problems which include:

Articulation disorder

An articulation disorder is a disorder in which an individual cannot produce speech sounds correctly due to the imprecise placement, timing and movement of the speech muscles (lips, tongue, palate or throat).

Phonological disorder

A phonological disorder is where an individual will have a difficulty in using the rules of the sound system of their language correctly. An individual with a phonological disorder may have difficulty in recognising the difference between a pair of sounds. For example knowing that the ‘p' in ‘pot' is different to the ‘h' in ‘hot', this may result in a difficulty producing these sounds correctly, the individual may say ‘hot' for ‘pot'.

Common characteristics of speech sound problems may include:

  • Not being able to understand what the individual is saying.
  • Use of distorted sounds including consonants and vowels.
  • Speech sounding immature for the individual's age.
  • Missing sounds off the beginning, middle or ends of words.
  • Mispronunciation of sounds.

Speech sound problems can occur in both children and adults and will vary in the type and severity.

What conditions can cause speech sound problems?

There are many conditions which can cause speech sound problems in children and adults include:

Children

  • Speech disorders
  • Learning difficulties
  • Neurological problems
  • Down syndrome
  • Hearing loss or impairment
  • Communication problems
  • Specific language impairment
  • Bilingualism
  • Selective mutism
  • Learning difficulties
  • Glue ear
  • Physical disabilities
  • Auditory processing disorder
  • Fetal anti-convulsant syndrome
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Sensory integration dysfunction
  • Cleft lip and palate

Adults

  • Neurological problems
  • Hearing loss and impairments
  • Voice problems
  • Speech disorders
  • Communication problems
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Physical disabilities
  • Learning difficulties

How is a speech sound problem diagnosed?

A speech and language therapist will be able to identify and diagnose an individual with a speech sound problem. The speech and language therapist will carry out an initial assessment which will determine whether an individual has a speech sound problem. This assessment will determine the severity of the speech sound problem and will also help in deciding on what the best form of treatment for the individual will be.

How can speech and language therapy help with speech sound problems?

Speech and language therapy can help in treating and supporting an individual with a speech sound problem. The main aim of speech and language therapy will be to increase the clarity of the individual's speech and maximise their communication.

The speech and language therapist will individualise a treatment plan for each individual depending on their individual speech, language and communication needs. The speech and language therapist will also consider factors such as the individual's current and past communicative ability and also the underlying cause of their speech sound problem.

The speech and language therapist will support the individual, their parent or carer and also other professionals involved in their care, regarding their speech, language and communication difficulties.

What speech and language therapy treatment can benefit patients with speech sound problems?

There are many types of treatment options speech and language therapy can offer for individual with speech sound problems. The speech and language therapist will carry out an initial assessment which will help to decide on what treatment will benefit the individual.

Different types of speech and language therapy for individuals with speech sound problems can include:

One to one therapy

One to one therapy will work with the client on an individual basis. For individuals with expressive language problems one to one therapy will work on specific exercises and strategies to help maximise their expressive communication.

Find out more on one to one therapy.

Training

Training and advice for the individual, parents / carers and other professionals involved in the individual's care will be provided by the speech and language therapist. Training may include specific communication programmes to support the individual's comprehension problems.

Find out more about training.

Consultative role

The speech and language therapist will advise the individual, their carer and other professionals involved in their care on compensatory strategies to help support and maximise their communicative abilities.

Find out more about consultative role.

Home programmes

Home programmes can include specific communication programmes which will focus on maximising the individual's comprehension and also their communication. Home programmes will be provided to the individual and their carers or parents. Speech and language therapy programmes can also be implemented in the school environment.

Find out more about therapy programmes.

One to one therapy

One to one therapy will involve the therapist and the individual (and their carer or parent). One to one therapy will work on specific areas of communication the individual is finding difficult and also areas they feel are a priority to work on in therapy. For an individual with comprehension problems, the therapist may work on increasing the individual's understanding of spoken and written words, sentences and also conversation and paragraphs.

Find out more about one to one therapy.

Group therapy

Group therapy will usually involve a group of individuals with similar communicative abilities. Group therapy can help in increasing the individual's motivation, social skills and also help to generalise the skills learnt in one to one therapy. Parent and carer groups may also be carried out to help support the parents and carers in supporting the individual's comprehension problems.

Find out more about group therapy.

Alternative and Augmentative Communication

Alternative and augmentative forms of communication may also be used for individuals with very limited and restricted understanding. Alternative forms of communication will help to support an individual's understanding and help them to communicate to the best of their ability. Alternative forms of communication may include visual aids, sign language and also computer aids.

Find out more about Alternative and Augmentative Communication.

Training

Training for individuals with speech sound problems can include training the individual and their parent or carer(s) on how best to support their speech, language and communication needs.

Find out more about training.

If an individual's speech and language is very restricted and the individual is completely unintelligible, the speech and language therapist may explore options of alternative communication systems in helping to support the individual's communication.

Speech and language therapy treatment may also include:

  • assessments
  • clinic visits
  • school visits
  • home visits
  • reviews
  • reports
  • early intervention

How do I arrange a speech and language therapy assessment?

To arrange an initial assessment with one of our speech and language therapists please contact us on 0330 0885 643.

Summary

A speech sound problem is a difficulty in producing sounds of a particular language. Individuals with speech sound problems may experience mild to severe difficulties in the production of speech sounds. The speech and language therapist will aim to improve the clarity of the individual's speech and also to maximise their communication. If you feel you will benefit from our speech and language therapy services then please do not hesitate to email us at office@slt.co.uk or call us on 0330 0885 643.



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Next steps

To speak to a Speech and Language Therapist or to book an appointment, call us on 0161 883 0111 or email office@slt.co.uk

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