We treat all problems affecting; speech, language, communication, eating & drinking.

Phonological disoder

Phonological disorder is the name given to a disorder of articulation which is apparent in children and affects their ability to produce speech sounds which would usually be present at their particular age. Phonological disorder is usually more severe in comparison to children who have delayed phonology as they do not seem to follow the expected phonological acquisition pattern.

What different types of phonological disorder are there?

There are different types of phonological disorder and the severity of the disorder will depend upon the type an individual has. Speech can range from being totally unintelligible to speech with only a few mispronounced speech sounds.


Neurological problems can cause phonological disorder and involve problems with the oro-motor muscles which a child will not have full control over in order to produce the correct speech sounds.


Dysarthria occurs when the muscles in the mouth and face are damaged due to the effects of cerebral palsy or after a stroke or brain injury. Muscles are weakened and move slower or may not move at all. Severity will depend upon the region of the brain which has been affected and can range from mild to severe.


Dyspraxia is a co-ordination disorder that affects the muscles involved in speech production which leads to difficulty producing speech sounds and sequencing words. Dyspraxia can also cause difficulties with movement and balance.


Structural problems involve problems with the tongue and mouth and can include cleft lip and palate abnormalities. The child will have difficulty producing the correct speech sounds as they cannot articulate the correct movement involved in certain articulations. Any structural problem will need medical attention before a course of speech and language therapy can commence.

Unknown causes

There are also a number of unknown causes of phonological disorders and may include developmental problems and brain abnormalities.

What causes phonological disorder?

The cause of phonological disorder will depend upon the type of disorder a child has. If the disorder is a result of structural damage then a cleft lip or palate may be the cause. If, on the other hand, the cause is neurological a child may suffer from a disorder such as cerebral palsy, dysarthria or dyspraxia. There are also a number of unknown causes of phonological disorders. Speech and language therapy will be tailored according to the cause and specific individual need.

How does phonological disorder affect people?

Children with phonological disorder may be affected in different ways. The following are some ways in which children may be affected by phonological disorder:

  • Low confidence.
  • Frustration.
  • Difficulties with reading, writing and spelling.
  • Difficulty forming friendships at school.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Inability to express thoughts appropriately.

Speech and language therapy for phonological disorder

Speech and language therapy for phonological disorder involves the practice of sounds which the child finds particularly difficult. An assessment will be done first to establish what these difficulties are. Repetition of the sounds will be key to the speech and language therapy programme. If a child is unable to produce the correct sound due to structural or neurological problems, the speech and language therapist will teach them an approximate alternative for the sound which they are able to produce.

Benefits of speech and language therapy for phonological disorder

The following are just some of the benefits children may find following speech and language therapy for phonological disorder:

  • Increased self-esteem and confidence.
  • Increase in intelligibility.
  • Techniques to modify speech production.
  • Reduced frustration and anxiety levels.
  • Increased social skills and willingness to interact with others.

How do I arrange an appointment with a speech and language therapist?

To arrange an appointment with one of our speech and language therapists at Manchester SLT, or if you would like more information about coping with phonological disorders please contact us by emailing: info@manchesterslt.co.uk.

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