Articulation/Phonological Disorder(s)

11 May

Hi everyone!  I’m back for week two of Better Hearing & Speech Month (2017).  This week, I’m focusing on “Articulation/Phonological Disorder(s).”

I know there are times when parents are a bit confused when the Speech-language pathologist tells them that their son or daughter doesn’t have an articulation disorder, but a phonological disorder.  I’m here to give a brief explanation of the difference between the two.


An Articulation Disorder is a speech disorder that affects the phonetic level (takes care of the motor act of producing the vowels and consonants, so that we have a repertoire of all the sounds we need in order to speak our language(s).  The child exhibits difficulty producing particular consonants and vowels.  The reason for this may be unknown (i.e., children with functional speech disorders who do not have serious problems with muscle function); or the reason may be known (i.e., children with dysarthria who do have serious problems with muscle function).

A Phonological Disorder is actually a language disorder that affects the phonological (phonemic-is in charge of the brainwork that goes into organizing the speech sounds into patterns of sound contrasts) level.  The sounds need to contrast with each other or be distinct from one another, so that we can make sense when we talk.

How do they differ?

In an Articulation Disorder, the child’s difficulty is at a phonetic level.  That is, the child is having trouble producing the individual speech sounds (even though there is nothing wrong with their articulators).

In a Phonological Disorder, the child’s difficulty is at a phonemic level (in the mind).  This phonemic level is sometimes referred to as “the linguistic level” or “a cognitive level.”

I hope now that you have a better understanding between the two!  If you suspect that your child exhibits difficulty with sound production, I recommend that you consult with a Speech-language pathologist to determine the next course of action.


Bowen, C. (2011).  What is the difference between an articulation disorder and a phonological disorder?  Retrieved from on May 11, 2017.

Note:  On week three, I will be discussing “What is a Language Disorder?”  I look forward to engaging with you regarding this topic.  Thank you!

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Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Uncategorized


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