WHAT IS ARTICULATION?

Articulation (pronunciation and talking) is the ability to physically move and coordinate the tongue, lips, teeth and jaw to produce sequences of speech sounds, which make up words and sentences.

WHY IS ARTICULATION IMPORTANT?

 

Articulation is important to be able to produce sounds, words and sentences which are clear and can be easily understood and interpreted by others in order to be able to express basic needs and wants, right through to being able to engage in complex conversations.

Depending on the extent of the difficulties, unclear speech can impact significantly on how well a child can interact with adults and their peers and can affect the development of language and social skills. A child who is having difficulties being understood can become frustrated and angry which may lead to behavioural issues. Articulation is also important in literacy skills such as reading and spelling out of words.

  • Attention and concentration: Sustained effort, listening and doing activities without distraction and being able to hold that effort long enough to get the task done (e.g. being able to attend to speech and sounds long enough to be able to process the information).

  • Hearing: For detection of speech sounds.

  • Good middle ear functioning most of the time (e.g. a child with on-going ear infections, ‘glue ear’ or colds which block the ears may have fluctuating hearing levels which can affect speech).

  • Process speech sounds, identify and hear differences between sounds.

  • Muscle coordination: The ability to move and coordinate the muscles involved in producing sounds (e.g. diaphragm, lips, tongue, vocal cords, jaw and palate).

  • Understanding that sounds convey meaning.

WHAT ARE THE BUILDING BLOCKS NECESSARY TO DEVELOP ARTICULATION? 

 

WHAT OTHER PROBLEMS CAN OCCUR WHEN A CHILD HAS ARTICULATION PROBLEMS?

When a child has articulation difficulties, they might also have difficulties with:

  • Social skills: Unclear articulation can impact the ability to engage in reciprocal interaction with others (either verbally or non-verbally), to compromise with others, and be able to recognize and follow social norms.

  • Expressive (using) language: Using language through speech, sign or alternative forms of communication to communicate wants, needs, thoughts and ideas. The child may reduce the length of their sentences or use familiar words to help with being understood.

  • Self confidence: A child’s belief in their ability to perform a task.

  • Fluency: The smoothness or flow with which sounds, syllables, words and phrases are produced when talking.

  • Independence: The child may be “clingy” or always want a parent/carer to be around to translate or help with their communication.

  • Behaviour: A child may become overly frustrated due to not being understood.

  • Reading and spelling which rely on sounding out the words.