Free SLP

What are phonological processes?

Understanding Phonological Processes in your Child’s Speech Development

Phonological processes are the natural ways in which children simplify and adapt speech as they learn and grow.  Learning sounds is such a complex task that takes lots of trial and error for children to figure out how and when to make certain sounds.  It is truly mind-blowing that children are able to learn how to make sounds on their own with how complex making just one sound can be!

While these processes are typically part of normal language development, persistent patterns might signal a need for support. Consult with a speech-language pathologist to ensure healthy speech progression in your child.

Below are some of the most common phonological processes that are seen as a child develops.

Gliding

Gliding is the phonological process where a child replaces the “r” and “l” sounds with the “y” or “w” sounds.

In speech therapy, the “r” and “l” are known as liquids while the “w” and “y” are knows as glide sounds.

Examples of gliding include:

  • “weaf” for “leaf”
  • “yeyo” for “yellow”
  • “wabbit” for “rabbit”
  • “wing” for “ring”

It is common for all children to make theses errors; however, if the errors persist after the child turns five, you may want to consult a school / local Speech-Language Pathologist to see if they qualify for services.

Cluster Reduction

Cluster reduction is a phonological process where a consonant cluster (two or more syllables next to each other) are reduced or completely eliminated from the word.

Examples of cluster reduction include:

  • “tig” for “twig” (this is called partial because some of the cluster still remains)
  • “ig” for “twig” (this is called total or full because the child has completely eliminated the consonant cluster from the word)

It is common for all children to make theses errors; however, if the errors persist after the child turns four, you may want to consult a school / local Speech-Language Pathologist to see if they qualify for services.

Voicing

Voicing is the phonological process where a child replaces a voiceless (sound where there is no vibration / car engine rumble in throat) like “k” and “f” with a voiced sound (sounds with vibration in the throat) like “g” and “v”.

Voiced sounds include b, g, v, z, th(there, them), l, r, m, n, w.

Voiceless sounds include p, t, k, f, s, sh, ch, th(thing, Thor)

Tips that are helpful for teaching a child the difference include:

  • Having the child feel your throat as you go between making voiceless and voiced sounds.
  • Teaching voiced sounds as the car engine or buzzing bee noise.  When teaching voiceless sounds, telling the child to turn their motor or buzzing bee sound off is helpful!

Examples of voicing include:

  • gat” for “cat”
  • bie” for “pie”
  • “pig” for “pick
  • zock” for “sock”

It is common for all children to make theses errors; however, if the errors persist after the child turns 3, you may want to consult a school / local Speech-Language Pathologist to see if they qualify for services.

Stopping

Stopping is the phonological process where a child replaces a sound that is supposed to travel thru the mouth without being completely stopped, like “s” “sh”  “v” and more,  by a sound that completely stops the airflow like “t’, “d”, “p”, and more.

In speech therapy, types of sounds that move thru the mouth without being completely stoped include fricatives and affricates.  Sounds that at some point completely stop the airflow are called stops.

Examples of stopping include:

  • “pat” for “fat”
  • “tun” for “sun”
  • “dare” for “share”
  • “to” for “chew”

It is common for all children to make theses errors; however, if the errors persist after the child turns five, you may want to consult a school / local Speech-Language Pathologist to see if they qualify for services.

Nasalization

Nasalization is the phonological process where a child replaces a non-nasal consonant like “b” and “d” sounds with nasal consonants like the “m” and “n” sounds.

Nasal consonants are where air is released thru the nostrils.  “m” and “n” examples of nasal consonants.

A tip to help the child see airflow coming out of their nostrils is to place a mirror under your / their nose during the production of nasal consonants.  The mirror should fog up from the nasal emissions.  If no mirror is present, have the child place a finger under your / their nose to feel the air stream works too!

Examples of nasalization include:

  • “mom” for “mop”
  • “no” for “toe”
  • “lean” for “leaf”
  • “mug” for “bug”

It is common for all children to make theses errors; however, if the errors persist after the child turns three, you may want to consult a school / local Speech-Language Pathologist to see if they qualify for services.

Denasalization

Denasalization is the phonological process where a child replaces a nasal consonants like the “m” and “n” sounds with  non-nasal consonant like “b” and “d”.

Nasal consonants are where air is released thru the nostrils.  “m” and “n” examples of nasal consonants.

A tip to help the child see airflow coming out of their nostrils is to place a mirror under your / their nose during the production of nasal consonants.  The mirror should fog up from the nasal emissions.  If no mirror is present, have the child place a finger under your / their nose to feel the air stream works too!

Examples of denasalization include:

  • “do” for “no”
  • “de” for “me”
  • “ot” for “on”

It is common for all children to make theses errors; however, if the errors persist after the child turns three, you may want to consult a school / local Speech-Language Pathologist to see if they qualify for services.

Fronting

Fronting is the phonological process where a child replaces a sound produced further back in the mouth like “k” and “g”  with sounds that are produced closer to the front of the mouth like “t” and “d”.

In speech therapy, “k” and “g” are called the velar sounds because the velum(also called the soft palate) is where the back of the tongue touches to stop the airflow.

Examples of fronting include:

  • “tat” for “cat”
  • “do” for “go”
  • “tootie” for “cookie”
  • “dod” for “dog”

It is common for all children to make theses errors; however, if the errors persist after the child is around 3.5 years old, you may want to consult a school / local Speech-Language Pathologist to see if they qualify for services.

Backing

Backing is the phonological process where a child replaces
sounds that are produced closer to the front of the mouth like “t” and “d” with sounds produced further back in the mouth like “k” and “g”.

In speech therapy, “t” and “d” are called the alveolar sounds because the alveolar ridge(the area of your gums behind the front teeth) is where the tip of the tongue touches to stop the airflow.

Examples of backing include:

  • “kop” for “top”
  • “gog” for “dog”
  • “gime” for “dime”

It is common for all children to make errors in speech as they are learning how to talk; however, the phonological process of backing is not typical.  If your child is producing a lot backing errors, you may want to consult a school / local Speech-Language Pathologist to see if they qualify for services.

Initial Consonant Deletion

Initial Consonant Deletion is the phonological process where a child eliminates the first consonant from a word.

Examples of backing include:

“og” for “dog”
“unny” for “funny”
“up” for “cup”
It is common for all children to make errors in speech as they are learning how to talk; however, the phonological process of initial consonant deletion is not typical. If your child is producing a lot of initial consonant deletion errors, you may want to consult a school / local Speech-Language Pathologist to see if they qualify for services.

Final Consonant Deletion ( FCD)

Final Consonant Deletion is the phonological process where a child eliminates the final consonant from a word.

Examples of backing include:

  • “toe” for “toad”
  • “cuh” for “cup”
  • “dah” for “dog”

It is common for all children to make theses errors; however, if the final consonant deletion errors persist after the child is around 3 years old, you may want to consult a school / local Speech-Language Pathologist to see if they qualify for services.