A phonological language disorder involves pronunciation difficulties as well as difficulties in perceiving and distinguishing letter sounds and being able to hear where in the words the letter sounds are. Parents often say that the child can pronounce the letters correctly if they want to but that the child just will not. That is not really the case. The child has difficulty distinguishing the language sounds and therefore confuses them when they speak.
Common pronunciation difficulties are, for example, replace language sounds that are pronounced far in the back of the mouth (such as the k-sound in “cat” and the g-sound in “good”) further forward in the mouth so that they are instead pronounced as t and d. The child can say “tat” instead of “cat” or “diddle” instead of “giggle”. It is also common for the s-sound to be pronounced as t, so that “sun” is pronounced as “tun”.
Signs of phonological language disorder:
– The child may be late in his or her language development and may not start talking at the expected age.
– The child has difficulties pronouncing words but maybe speaks in long sentences.
– It can be difficult to understand what the child is saying.
– Later on the child may develop reading and writing dificulties.
Note that pronunciation difficulties occur in normal development.
How the environment can think and act:
– Use passive correction, that is, as an adult, you repeat what the child says, but correctly. For example, if the child says “tun” instead of “sun”, you can answer “yes exactly, that is a sun”.
– Never say to the child that the child is saying wrong or that it is talking badly. This can cause the child to have a reduced self-esteem. The child is doing its best and if the child could have talked better he or she had done so.
– Talk to the child about what sounds are in the words. For example, if the child is having difficulty with s, you can together try to listen for words that have that particular sound in them. For example, you can say “is there any sssss in sssssnake”. You can also discuss where the sound is in the word, is it in the beginning, the middle or the end?
– Try to put letter sounds together into words. What happens if you put together “b” and “e”? By doing this you help the child acknowledge the letter sounds which will make it easier for the child to learn how to read and write.