SLP - Articulation & Phonology

Articulation and Phonology

One of the most common areas that speech-language pathologists address are Speech Sound Disorders. These typically fall into one of two categories: Articulation and Phonology.


A child with an Articulation Impairment experiences difficulties with movement of their speech mechanism, (e.g., their tongue or their lips). It might be that there is some weakness, limited range of motion, or the movement may be out of sync with other movements. (This is different than motor planning issues or Apraxia of Speech.) An example of an Articulation Impairment would be those kids who have a hard time making the /s/ sound.


Phonological Impairments are related to the child’s ability to recognize and follow the patterns and rules of speech production. A child with a Phonological Impairment may struggle to produce all the consonant sounds when there are two (or more) next to each other, (like when a child says “boo” instead of “blue”). It could also include children who regularly substitute sounds in one part of their mouth for sounds that are produced in another, (such as a child who makes /t/ and /d/ sounds in place of /k/ and /g/).

For a child with a Speech Sound Disorder, treatment usually involves helping them hear when sounds are made correctly or incorrectly, demonstrating how to make the sound, and supporting them in learning the patterns and rules of production. It is also important to get a lot of practice making correct sounds in different structures, (like syllables, words, and sentences), as well as in different settings, (with the speech-language pathologist, other adults, friends). Although telepractice typically happens in front of one computer, the SLP is able to bring a variety of digital environments to students with different activities and connecting with other speakers, including parents and other children.

A growing body of research shows that telepractice SLPs offering articulation/phonological services can provide services that are comparable to their on-site colleagues. Grogan-Johnson and her colleagues, (2011), provided computer-based speech sound treatment to children in both on-site and telepractice settings. They saw that both sets of children made comparable gains. Two additional studies by Grogan-Johnson, (2010 & 2013), provided direct speech sound treatment to children in both on-site and telepractice settings. The 2010 study even switched the service method half way through the study, (that is, the telepractice group started receiving on-site services and vice-versa). Both studies showed that children made comparable progress, no matter what setting they were in.

Telepractice holds a lot of potential for helping children with Speech Sound Disorders. Not only is there growing evidence that telepractice intervention is effective, it provides some novel solutions for giving students a variety of digital environments where they can generalize skills.

  • Grogan-Johnson, S., Alvares, R., Rowan, L., & Creaghead, N. (2010). A pilot study comparing the effectiveness of speech language therapy provided by telemedicine with conventional on-site therapy. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 16, 134-139.
  • Grogan-Johnson, S., Gabel, R., Taylor, J., Rowan, L., Alvares, R., & Schenker, J. (2011). A pilot exploration of speech sound disorder intervention delivered by telehealth to school-age children. International Journal of Telerehabilitation,3(1), 31-42.
  • Grogan-Johnson, S., Schmidt, A. M., Schenker, J., Alvares, R., Rowan, L. E., & Taylor, J. (2013). A Comparison of Speech Sound Intervention Delivered by Telepractice and Side-by-Side Service Delivery Models. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 34(4), 210-220.

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