Articulation and phonological disorders, also referred to as speech sound disorders, involve errors made by children, or adults, in which they have difficulty correctly pronouncing sounds, called phonemes. These errors often result in others having difficulty understanding the individual.


A screening is conducted whenever a speech sound disorder is suspected or as part of a comprehensive speech and language evaluation for a client with communication concerns. The purpose of the screening is to identify those who require further speech-language/communication assessment or referral to other professional services. Some common articulation errors include substituting /w/ for /l/ or /r/, distortion of /s/ as /th/ with the tongue protruding on the sides or out the front of the mouth and de-voicing, using a /k/ for /g/. 

Following the quick screening, if there are sounds that have difficulty, the SLP will perform a more comprehensive exam to specify the problems.  I prefer to use the S-CAT by Secord Contextual Articulation Test, as I feel it is the most comprehensive, in narrowing the difficulty. 


Traditionally, the speech therapist will work with the client on sounds in this hierarchy.

  • Sounds in isolation

  • Sounds in words (i.e., all word positions: initial, medial and final)

  • Sounds in phrases

  • Sounds in sentences

  • Sounds in reading/writing

  • Sounds in spontaneous conversational speech

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