Return to Speech Difficulties & Disorders

Phonological Awareness

A delay with the development of Phonological Awareness is often at the route of speech delay. This usually presents when the child is late developing speech sounds or has speech difficulties. There are a number of names for this type of disorder such as developmental phonological disorder or articulation disorder etc. Phonological development describes the process where the child learns new sounds, stores them, and can access them to form words correctly. This is a very complex system and is linked to the child being able to hear, organise and discriminate new sounds. When there is a phonological delay there is often also an associated difficulty with language and literacy.

Within the icommunicate website we will separate speech difficulties under clearly defined headings. We have a separate section for dyspraxia and other types of speech difficulties, but are aware that difficulties at a phonological level may be linked to all these speech problems.

If you believe your child has a phonological disorder it is important to visit your local speech and language pathologist / therapist as soon as possible to discuss speech therapy and the need for some specialist intervention. The speech pathologist / therapist can work with your child and give you exercises and activities to help with their speech development and phonological skills.  Phonological disorders may also affect your child’s ability to learn to read and spell so it is important to begin therapy sooner rather than later.

Therapy for phonological disorders may differ somewhat to normal articulation therapy. Through the use of a psycholinguistic assessment the therapist can focus on different areas of the child’s speech and language production and pinpoint areas of difficulty so that they can target our therapy appropriately. Therapy may initially have more of a listening bias than a speech bias with a lot of different auditory discrimination tasks of words and sounds.

Phonologically based disorders of speech are complicated and can require regular speech and language therapy.


A common example of a phonological awareness difficulty is when a child will consistently replace one sound for another. For instance, the child might use a /t/ sound whenever they say a word containing a /c/ sound e.g. “car” becomes “tar“, and “cat” becomes “tat“. A speech error on it’s own like this is unlikely to make the child difficult to understand, but many children have a combination of several sounds that they are mixing up and this makes them very difficult to understand. Visiting a speech therapist / pathologist can help improve many of these types of speech errors. .



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