What is Articulation and Phonological Awareness?

Articulation refers to the accuracy in which an individual pronounces the different sounds and/or sound patterns unique to each language. Phonological awareness, on the other hand, refers to the ability to recognize those sounds and sound patterns. Studies show that many children with poor articulation often perform poorly during phonological awareness evaluation.

Common Errors in APD-Related Articulation

Incorrect placement of the tongue, teeth, lips or soft palate can affect the clarity of speech in a child with poor articulation. Some of the most common errors include:

  • Complete omission of sounds in words and sentences. Instead of saying, “I go to school on the bus,” a child with poor articulation may produce the sentence, “I go o coo o bu.”
  • Distortion of sounds. “S” sounds may produce a slushy sound.
  • Substitution of incorrect and/or easier sounds with the correct one. Some of the most common substitutions include B/D (hab for had), D/T (cad for cat), T/C (tat for cat) and W/L (wove for love).
  • Addition of extra sounds or syllables to words. A child may pronounce the word “animal” as “animamal” or reverse sounds in words such as “aminal”.
  • Slow, slurred speech or rapid, slurred speech.

Auditory Processing and Articulation

Children with auditory processing disorder, or more specifically, children with weaknesses in the area of auditory decoding skills, often struggle with phonemic awareness.

No one fully understands what causes articulation problems in children. What we do know is that the problem is becoming more prevalent. We also know that a strong relationship exists between how we hear a sound and how we say a sound. We must first hear sounds correctly in order to pronounce them correctly. The relationship is therefore an important one to consider.

Another important element to consider is that children with auditory processing weaknesses often find listening to be a lot of extra work. Many children with weaknesses in auditory processing are thus described as being selective listeners. Through selective listening, children with this type of weakness often deprive their auditory system from the repetitive sound patterns in their native language, thus further slowing down the development of sound pattern recognition (phonological awareness). This concept may contribute to the number of children exhibiting articulation problems.

Early Diagnosis

Once we can recognize the direct relationship between how we hear and how we speak, we can then begin to help by providing the proper auditory stimulation in a fun and motivating way. By implementing the principles of brain plasticity, we can change the way the brain processes sounds and begin to develop stronger and more accurate auditory decoding skills. When we improve auditory decoding skills, we improve phonemic awareness, which can then improve articulation skills. It has to first go in before it can come out.

Auditory Decoding Skills

Auditory decoding skills are often the easiest auditory processing skills to address and improve upon. Planet Hearwell incorporates many games and activities focused on improving auditory decoding skills. Auditory decoding skills are the building blocks to developing a strong auditory processing system. By first developing good, strong auditory decoding skills, we can then build to improve overall listening skills. Improved overall listening will ultimately lead to improvements in many other areas of processing and learning.

A “Daily Listening Diet”

When auditory processing deficits become a piece of the puzzle, a “daily listening diet” can prove quite helpful. Learn why a daily listening diet is a critical element in remediating an auditory processing problem.