Phonological Problems

A child with a phonological problem has a difficulty pronouncing a number of sounds.  The sounds which are mispronounced can be grouped according to certain features, such as the place in the mouth where the sound is produced or how it is produced.

There are many phonological processes (sound rules) which a child uses which affect the pronunciation of groups of similar sounds, for example;

  • fronting, where sounds that should be produced at the back of the mouth are produced further forwards in the mouth e.g 'car' becomes 'tar,' 'got' becomes 'dot' 
  • backing, the opposite of fronting - where sounds are produced further back in the mouth, e.g 'dog' becomes 'gog,' 'pat becomes 'tat' or 'cat'
  • stopping of fricatives, when longer sounds are produced as short sounds, e.g 'sun' becomes 'tun,' or 'finger' becomes 'pinger'
  • cluster reduction, where l, r and s are the most commonly omitted letters where consonants occur together in words, e.g 'sweet' becomes 'weet,' and 'black' becomes 'back,' 'bread' becomes 'bed'

A phonological problem may also be referred to as a phonological disorder.  A child is seen to have a phonological delay when using phonological processes which are typical of a younger child. A child's phonology is disordered when the processes used are inconsistent and not following the normal pattern of phonological development.