Maybe you have just attended your child’s first Speech and Language therapy session or read their first report, you knew that their sounds were not developing quite right but now you are leaving that appointment or finishing reading that report and you feel confused. You don’t understand what the Speech and Language Therapist is talking about. Ironic when they are supposed to help with language.
In Speech and Language Therapy, there are lots of terms for different things that can be confusing or complicated to explain. Most of these words are used to help the Speech and Language Therapist themselves understand the nature of your child’s difficulty but don’t necessarily help you when written in a report. We thought it may be helpful to list all of the terms that you may hear and explain them so hopefully you feel you understand the nature of your child’s difficulties.
Affricate – This is a ‘ch’ or ‘j’ sound. These are different to other sounds as they combine a short quick sound (plosive) with a long, hissy sound (fricative) such as ‘t’ and ‘sh’ for ‘ch’.
Alveolar – This is a place that sounds are created in the mouth. It is a hard, bumpy ridge behind your front teeth. Sounds such as ‘t’ and ‘d’ are created here.
Auditory Discrimination – The ability to hear the difference between sounds.
Backing – This is where a sound is produced further back in the mouth than it is expected to be such as ‘s’ for ‘f’ so ‘fish’ is produced as ‘sish’.
Cluster Reduction – When two consonants or sounds are together before a vowel such as “st”, a child may not say one of the sounds. This may be heard as them saying ‘star’ as ‘sar’. This is expected to stop around the age of four years old.
Consonant Deletion – This is a process where sounds from both the beginning and the end of the words are missed. For example, ‘dog’ produced as ‘o’ as the first and last sounds (d and g) are missed from the word.
Consonant Harmony – This is a process where another sound in the word changes the production of another. For example, ‘dog’ produced as ‘gog’ as there is a ‘g’ at the end of the word so this affects the first sound. This should typically stop at the age of three years old.
Context Sensitive Voicing – This is the process when a quiet sound is made into a loud sound, otherwise known as voicing it. For example, ‘bat’ instead of ‘pat’ and ‘gar’ instead of ‘car’. This process typically stops at the age of three years old.
Final Consonant Deletion – This is a process that is when a child misses off the end sounds off their words. For example, “ca” for “cat” or “fi” for “fish”. This process typically stops at the age of three years old.
Fricative – This is a long, hissy sound. It is produced by forcing air through a narrow gap in the mouth. Sounds such as ‘s’ and ‘sh’ are fricatives.
Fronting – This is where a sound is produced further forwards in the mouth than it is expected to be. For example, using ‘t’ for ‘k’ in words such as ‘cat’ as ‘tat’. This is expected to stop at the age of three and a half years old.
Gliding – This is a process when a child changes their ‘r’ and ‘y’ sounds to ‘w’ or ‘l’. For example, “rabbit” as “wabbit”. This process typically stops at the age of 5 years old.
Glottal Replacement – This is the process where a consonant in the middle of the word is changed to a glottal stop such as “te-y” for “teddy” or “wa-er” for “water”. If this process is used in speech, it is an indication of a disordered pattern of speech.
Intelligible – This is whether a child’s speech can be easily understood and is clear to both familiar and unfamiliar listeners.
Interdental ‘s’ – This is when a ‘s’ is produced using the front teeth and tongue rather than producing the sound behind the front teeth.
Intonation – This is the rise and fall of the pitch of our voice that we use when talking to help us convey a message.
Labiodental – This is where sounds are produced such as ‘f’. The front teeth and the lips together produce the sound.
Lateral ‘s’ – This is when the ‘s’ sound is produced by airing coming out of the sides of the mouth rather than at the centre. It makes the ‘s’ sound appear ‘slushie’. It is sometimes referred to as a lisp.
Minimal Pairs – These are words that differ by one speech sound such as me and knee. They do not have the same meaning.
Nasal – This is the way a sound is produced by letting air escape from the nose such as ‘n’ and ‘m’.
Plosive – This is a sound that is short and quick such as ‘t’ and ‘d’. It is created by forming a block in the mouth and then releasing built up air pressure to make the sound.
Phoneme Collapse – This is when lots of different sounds are produced as one sound. For example, the sounds ‘t’, ‘k’, ‘g’, ‘p’ and ‘b’ may all be said as ‘d’.
Phonological Awareness – Phonological awareness is the ability to hear different aspects of words such as being able to identify whether words rhyme, identify the first and last sound in a word, blend and segment sounds.
Phonological Processes – A phonological process is the way that a child changes one sound into another. For example, a child may use ‘t’ for ‘k’ and the process they do this is fronting as the sound is moved further forwards in the mouth. There are a large number of different phonological processes that are used in children’s speech some include: fronting, final consonant deletion, cluster reduction, stopping and gliding.
Stopping – This is where a long hissy sound (fricative) is produced as a short, quick sound (plosive). For example, the ‘s’ in ‘sink’ is produced as ‘t’ so they say ‘tink’. This is expected to stop by the age of 3 and a half years old.
Stimulable – A child is stimulable for a sound if they are able to produce the sound in isolation. They are not stimulable if they are unable to say the sound. For example, lots of children are not stimulable for ‘k’ and find it hard to say this sound in isolation without support.
Syllable Reduction – This is the process when one or more syllables are missed out of a word that has multiple syllables. For example, “elephant” said as “efant”.
Velar – This is where sounds such as ‘k’ and ‘g’ are produced. It is towards the back of the mouth.
Vowel Errors – This is when a child says a different vowel instead of the expected vowel or changes the length of a vowel. For example, “bed” as “bad”. This is an indication of a disordered pattern of speech.
Weak Syllable Deletion – This is a process where the unstressed syllables are missed out of the words such as ‘member’ for ‘remember’. This typically stops at the age of four years old.