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What are Phonological Patterns?
By Aamina (Speech Pathologist)
Phonological errors are different to sound errors, they are patterns that are simplified productions. These patterns are usually found in children who are learning how to talk, and they tend to simply the more complex words in a predictable manner. The following processes are typical errors which means that many children use them as part of their normal development however grow out of them overtime.
Atypical phonological processes are not seen in typically developing language learners. This may be a sign that a child has a phonological processing disorder. Some examples include initial consonant deletion, medial consonant deletion, glottal replacement, backing and stopping of glides.
Typical Phonological Patterns:
VELAR ASSIMILATION: A non-velar sound is changed to a velar sound because of the influence of another velar sound in a word, tack becomes “kack”
PRE-VOCALIC VOICING: A voiceless initial consonant is substituted with a voiced consonant, pig becomes” big”
FINAL CONSONANT DEVOICING A final voiced consonant is substituted with a voiceless consonant, pig becomes “pick
FINAL CONSONANT DELETION: The omission of the final consonant in a word, cat becomes “ka”
STOPPING OF FRICATIVES: A fricative is substituted with a stop sound, “four becomes “bore”; sun becomes “tun”
WEAK SYLLABLE DELETION: The deletion of an unstressed or weak syllable, elephant becomes “efant”
VELAR AND PALATAL FRONTING: An alveolar sound is substituted with a velar sound, can becomes “tan”
CLUSTER REDUCTION: The replacement of a 2-elemetn cluster is simplified into a single consonant, stop becomes “top”.
DEAFFRICATION: An affricate is substituted with a fricative, chip becomes “ship”; job becomes “zhob”
STOPPING OF AFFRICATES: An affricate is substituted with a stop sound, chop becomes “top”; jump becomes “dump”
GLIDING: A liquid (/r,l/) is substituted with a glide (/w,y), run becomes “wun”, leg becomes “weg”
FRICATIVE SIMPLIFICATION: A labiodental or alveolar fricative is substituted with an interdental fricative with no change in voicing, thumb becomes “fum”
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What is a Speech Sound Disorder?
Aamina Shakoor, Speech Pathologist, Change for Life.
Speech Sound Disorders (SSD) is a term used to refer to a range of difficulties involving the perception, motor production and phonological representation of the various speech sounds and segments.
SSD’s are split into either functional or organic in nature. Functional speech sound disorders are idiopathic; having no known cause as opposed to organic speech sound disorders as they result from underlying motor/neurological, structural or sensory/perceptual cause.
When Speech Pathologist’s plan to work on a speech delay, they plan according to the child’s speech. There are many different approaches that can be chosen to work on. There is no single therapy approach that works for all children and it may be required to change approaches at time. It is the Speech Pathologist’s role to ensure they consider the research and evidence and aim to provide the correct intervention to the child and their needs.
Organic Speech Sound Disorders
Organic speech sound disorders encompass:
- Neurological or Motor issues; Childhood Apraxia of Speech and Dysarthria
- Structural issues; Cleft Lip/Palate and other structural deficits
- Sensory/Perceptual disorders; Hearing Impairments
Functional Speech Sound Disorders:
Functional speech sound disorders include:
- Articulation Disorders (e.g., substitution or distortions of sounds)
- Phonological Disorders, which are more predictable, rule-based errors (e.g., fronting, backing, stopping etc.)
It is often difficult to be able to differentiate between a Phonological Disorder and an Articulation Disorder therefore many researchers and clinicians prefer to use the broader term of “Speech Sound Disorder”
Bowen, C. (2021). Children’s Speech Sound Disorders by Caroline Bowen. Retrieved 9 June 2021, from https://speech-language-therapy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16:ssd&catid=11:admin&Itemid=101
Speech Sound Disorders: Articulation and Phonology. (2021). Retrieved 9 June 2021, from https://www.asha.org/practice-portal/clinical-topics/articulation-and-phonology/
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By Melanie Chan – Psychologist
Mum and Dad, here is one for you.
A psychologist, Carol Dweck, first coined the term “growth mindset”. Years on, this concept has grown to be used in many different environments, especially in schools. The main idea is whether we have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset about ourselves.
For example, someone with a fixed mindset might say “I did not get good grades because I’m not smart.” In saying that, there is a fixed capacity to one’s capabilities.
However, someone with a growth mindset might say “I did not get good grades during this test, I wonder where I’m lacking and where can I improve?” In saying that, the person believes that there is potential to grow in their knowledge.
In her book, “Mindset”, Dr Dweck shares what it looks like to have a growth mindset when it comes to parenting and education, alongside other aspects of life. This might be a good resource to help us consider the language and the way we speak to our children and how that impacts their self-esteem and self-worth.
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Why is Speech Pathology Involved in the Diagnosis of Autism?
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Building Language skills through Role-Play.
Aamina Shakoor, Speech Pathologist.
There are many ways to utilise role play to aid in language development and skills. Role play can include using story books to incorporate more language skills. The skills that can be used during role play include the following:
Assigning roles to the child and the other communication partner can allow the child to request information, actions or objects. For example, using the book The Three Little Pigs, the child can play the role of the wolf which would require the child to ask the little pig to “please let me in”. Additionally, manipulating the environment by creating props but purposely leaving items out so the child is able to request for them. For example, creating the little pigs houses out of cardboard and only including one, leading the child to request the other two houses.
Visual comparisons can be included with in role play and comparing items that are the same or different, this can include the size, colour, type, age etc. Depending on the story chosen, a more detailed comparison could also be utilised including emotional characteristics such as happy, sad, good, bad etc.
An extension activity could be used by disassociating the child from the character, for example if the child was one of the ‘bears’ from Goldilocks and the Three Bears, you could talk about bears, including their habitat, characteristics, compare and contrast etc.
Turn-taking can be worked on by allowing the child to understand that to play out the roles each person needs to take turns to talk and act. Reinforce with the text from the book, if necessary. Carry over this important pragmatic skill into daily life.
Phonemic Awareness – Rhyming:
Discussing and pointing out words that rhyme, begin and/pr end with the same letter, or have the same vowel sound. This can increase phonemic awareness by purposely mispronouncing words, allowing the child to correct you. Let the child think of additional rhyming words. Accept all nonsense words, if they rhyme (i.e., big, pig, rig, wig, tig, etc.)
If there’s more than one child participating in the activity, observe the children’s social interactions. Encourage spontaneous speech, requesting, and model appropriate behaviour, if necessary.
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What have Freud and Lacan to offer Speech Pathology?
By Michael Audas – Speech Pathologist
It is convenient, in terms of justifying therapeutic interventions, to posit a model of ‘healthy speech’ from which pathologies of speech, defined by phenotypical clusters of symptoms, can be distinguished.
To the contrary, I would argue that speech is itself fundamentally pathological, since it is a symptom emerging from our helplessness as infants—an affliction that is very nearly unique to humans. It is during the prolonged period wherein we are unable to fend for ourselves that first vocalisations, and then speech, emerge as a means of inducing others to see to our needs and wants.
While it is true that other animals make communicative noise (which in humans we call vocalisation), symbolisation is, as far as anyone has determined, the sole province of humanity. Symbols alone are sufficient to address the increasing complexity of the things we want—and the impossible grandiosity of the extent to which we want them.
Invoking and combining these symbols in order to construct a meaning—a phantasy—around our wretched circumstances is a habit inculcated in infancy and childhood, but it remains a lifelong vice. The child, vaguely comprehending his or her own powerlessness in a world of brimming with threats of all kinds, constructs a narrative about a mighty king and queen who protect their young princess or prince from the dragons, warlocks, and other assorted malevolent entities baying at the borders of the realm.
After the prince or princess makes their Oedipal ascent to the throne, and thereby becomes an adult, they inevitably not only discover that the crown weighs heavy, but also that regent is scarcely less helpless than infant in the grand scheme of things—a scheme which from high atop their castle seems to unfurl before them as a terrifying, limitless expanse.
Worse still, the princess or prince, upon assuming the title of king or queen, now realises that the phantasy of their youth is untenable. Where once they imagined their parents to be invincible and infallible scions, they now apprehend the truth: the former king and queen too were nought more than scared children. It is the moment of this realisation, and not the ascension to the throne itself, that truly constitutes a regicide patterned after Oedipus and Laius. Indeed, we may posit a double regicide, given that the realisation that that signifier of ‘king’ or ‘queen’ no more befits the current ruler than the former. According to Nietzsche’s formulation, this might run something like ‘der König ist todt! der König bleibt todt! Und wir haben ihn getödtet!’ 
But it is in the nature of language that that which enters into the chain of signification may never escape its bonds. That is to say, something which is symbolised may never be divested of symbols (and I am here using ‘signifiers’/’signification’ and ‘symbol’/’symbolisation’ almost interchangeably) altogether, even a given symbol is substituted by the negation of that symbol: e.g., ‘former queen/king.’ No matter how far we follow the links of the chain, we only ever find more links (symbols).
And so, the twilight of one phantasy becomes the dawn of the another. The symbols of the previous phantasy will be rearranged, not only because this is, as we have just discovered, in the nature of language, but also because the promise language offers of construction of a new phantasy is far too tempting for any of us to resist.
The new phantasy will resemble the old one in many ways; most noticeably in that it will still locate a source of benevolent, protective power outside of oneself. But precisely where this is located may well be subjected to a displacement of level—from the individual (e.g., the parent/monarch) to the institutional (e.g., to the nation-state). Entities which seem to transcend the individual, temporal, and finite hold out the possibility of a more durable ground for a new phantasy which we take to secure our own place in the cosmos. Nevertheless, the traces of the former phantasy are still evident, not only in the overarching structure (or meta-narrative) of the phantasy, and the purposes which it serves, but also in the way in the impersonal entities conscripted into phantasy take on very personal or anthropomorphic qualities. It is hard for us to trust, for instance, that the state will really operate to protect us unless it cares for us in some way that resembles the love that drove the royal mother and father to keep us from harm.
We have discussed this childhood phantasy at some length now, but I hope that I have not left the reader with the impression that this is the only phantasy we have to contend with. On the contrary, this is but one phantasy—one that to a certain degree, and in its broad outlines, may be taken to be universal—but language at the very least permits, and may well obligate, a profusion of phantasies, both personal and collective.
The work of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan—which, despite not being explicitly referenced up until this point, has undergirded everything expounded thus far—shatters any illusion we might have about a separation between mental life and language. The contents of the psyche are, quite necessarily if one thinks about it, not made up of things that exist in reality, but symbolic representations of things in reality which have already been filtered by perception (a process which itself is subject to psycholinguistic biases). And, like any attempt at representation—such as a map or a painting—our symbolic representations are unavoidably incomplete and inaccurate as regards that which they seek to capture.
The residue of ‘stuff’ we fail to symbolise in language leaves a trace, a marker of something lacking, in our attempts to make meaning. This is especially true of things which we have no way of directly perceiving (if anything like ‘direct’ perception is possible in the first place), such as the thoughts and feelings of others. We are motivated to attempt to discern how the people around us are thinking and feeling, but we must rely on our apprehension of the words those people use to attempt to convey said thoughts and feelings. But whatever words they choose will be ill-suited to the task, because they will be drawn from a lexicon that was collectively constructed to refer to shared experiences and referents (e.g., objects in our environment that we can all see), when what is being attempted to be shared is something internal, private, and emphatically not part of shared experience.
The impossibility of ever really knowing what is going on, at a subjective level, inside the psyche of another person is problematic for us as meaning-seeking/making, linguistic creatures: we fail to recognise the existential dread of our parents/rulers. Is it any surprise, then, that there was a movement towards a kind of solipsism in Psychology which went under the mantle of ‘behaviourism’? As it turns out, an antidote to solipsism may be precisely what Freud and Lacan have offer both Psychology and Speech Pathology, as the latter likewise often elides the bidirectional implications that the mind and language/speech have for one another—positing communication and language, instead of behaviour, in the absence of minds.
In terms of how Speech Pathologists, approach their field, however, the abandonment of the illusion of speech that is non-pathological or non-symptomatic is a genuine gift that could be obtained through engagement with these thinkers. This is a gift not only because it happens to be true, but because it better allows us to understand that accessing speech and language is about more than re-/habilitating a functional capacity for our clients to receive and transmit information; rather, it is the principal means we have of coping with the trauma of our human existence. At the same time, it should temper our enthusiasm for language as an unambiguous good, given that language also permits of the phantasies which, when mistaken for the real, permit most of us to spend much of our time dreaming, even while awake.
- [1:] The King is dead! The King remains dead! And we have killed him.
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Joint Attention Skills and Children with Autism
By Aamina Shakoor – Speech Pathologist
What is Joint Attention?
Joint attention is the ability to share a common focus on something with another person, this may include people, a concept, objects or an event. It involves being able to gain, maintain and also shift attention. Joint attention is used as a referencing tool that involves visually focusing on the same thing and/or gesture can also be utilised. Overall, sharing focus helps individuals communicate effectively, but also helps develop important social skills which include understanding other people’s point of view and forming a bond. Joint attention skills can also be an indicator of a child’s language development.
Joint attention first begins during infancy and it is established between a child and their parent or guardian. Early skills encompass reaching out to be picked up, pointing toward a toy or focusing on looking at the same page in a book. Later developing skills involve participating and focusing on a game, playing make-believe or requesting for certain items.
Children with Autism may experience some difficulties with such activities as they may tend to lack the social skills that are necessary to initiate and maintain focus with another person. This can tend to lead to dealing with difficulties in allowing for their wants and needs to be understood and met.
Skills Needed for Joint Attention:
A variety of skills are important for joint attention (Woods & Wetherby, 2008, p. 181). Not only do these skills help an individual to get his/her wants and needs met, but they are necessary for appropriate interactions and developing meaningful relationships.
These skills include:
- Orienting and attending to a social partner
- Shifting gaze between people and objects
- Sharing emotional states with another person
- Following the gaze and point of another person
- Being able to draw another person’s attention to objects or events for the purpose of sharing experiences
How to Help Improve Joint Attention:
Ways to help improve a child with their joint attention skills can include providing a good language model. Helping children with autism in particular, it is crucial to use gestures, such as pointing along with eye contact or gaze to show the child where to direct their attention. Using hand-over-hand approach which involves the parent or guardian holding the child’s hand and helping them to point to an object to help practice gestures. Pointing towards object that the child is familiar with and is interest in can also be a great place to start. Additionally, other ways to help improve joint attention is to also follow the child’s lead. When the child is showing interest in a particular object or toy, you can follow their lead and also show interest in the chosen object or toy. Furthermore, commenting on their interests can also enhance joint attention.
Joint attention skills can be incorporated into daily routines. Many children with autism tend to have more success with daily functioning when they have consistent routines. Keeping in mind that practicing joint attention skills in the child’s natural environment can help them achieve and develop social and communication skills at home, school and in the community.
Woods, J. J., & Wetherby, A. M. (2008). Early identification of and intervention for infants and toddlers who are at risk for autism spectrum disorder. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, vol. 34, p. 180-193.
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Articulation Errors Types
By Aamina (Speech Pathologist)
Speech sound production is a process of complexity which involves precise planning, movement and coordination of the lips, teeth, tongue, palate, cheeks, jaw and voice box – these are our articulators. Producing clear speech involves correct articulation, clear speech can also be referred to as intelligibility.
Errors in speech sound production are also known as articulation errors. Articulation errors are common in children when they are first learning to speak. An example of this is a toddler saying “wed” for “red”. Majority of children will eventually outgrow these speech errors, and this is a normal part of learning to produce new sounds.
If a child is demonstrating articulation errors that are not typically developing errors, then it is likely for them to need to see a Speech Pathologist. The Speech Pathologist is able to evaluate the error types the child is making and form an intervention or therapy plan. The Speech Pathologist will teach the child how to produce that sound correctly by:
- encouraging the child to move the articulators in the correct manner as well as
- explaining the type of sound (e.g., “whistly” sound, “long” sound or “short” sound)
- whether to turn their voice on or off.
A child can make the following articulation errors when producing speech sounds: Substitutions, Omissions, Distortions, and/or Additions. An easy way to remember these is to use the acronym SODA!
S – Substitutions
Definition: Replace one sound with another sound. Examples: “wed” for “red,” “thoap” for “soap,” “dut,” for “duck”
O – Omissions (also known as deletions) Definition: Omit a sound in a word.
Note: This error affects intelligibility the most, making speech more difficult for the listener(s) to understand.
Examples: “p ay the piano” for “play the piano”, “g een nake” for “green snake”
D – Distortions
Definition: Produce a sound in an unfamiliar manner.
Examples: “pencil” (nasalized—sounds more like an “m”) for “pencil,” “sun” (lisped—sounds “slushy”) for “sun”
A – Additions
Definition: Insert an extra sound within a word.
Examples: “buhlack horse” for “black horse,” “doguh,” for “dog”
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by Michael (Speech Pathologist)
- A boy walks through the front door.
- Mother: Wipe your feet, please.
- He removes his muddy shoes and socks and carefully wipes his feet on the doormat.
- E.g: Dogs chase cats.
- Paraphrase: Domestic canines pursue domestic felines.
- E.g., Melissa: *What’s up with Terry [the cat]? He was running away like his tail was on fire. Did Rufus [the dog] have anything to do with it?”
- Matt: Dogs chase cats.
- Paraphrase: Yep, Rufus was chasing Terry and that’s why Terry was terrified.
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Childhood defined by, and through, language
by Michael (Speech Pathologist)
I recently read a paper by Michael Gerard Plastow* and was lead to ponder the following question: if what is taken to constitute a child depends on historical and cultural contingencies, can language development provide us with a more solid, less transient foundation? A century ago, the terms “infant” and “child” were synonymous; whereas today there is a relatively-distinct, if arbitrarily-placed, distinction separating the two. Going back further than this, we see that the child virtually disappears from the art of the Middle Ages: replaced by figures resembling adult men and women in all but stature.
Part of the confusion about which cluster of ‘ages and stages’ belongs under the headings, ‘infant,’ ‘child,’ ‘adolescent,’ and ‘adult’ is surely owed to the less-than-perfect correlation between said ages and stages. Not everyone comes into possession of the same attainments, by the same ages, as everyone else, and so we are left with a quandary as to which metric (ages or stages) we should use to judge whither child or non.
Moreover, as the preceding quote from Freud illustrates, we flatter or diminish ourselves (depending on how one looks at it) to imagine that we ever leave the child behind. Here, another quote, this time by William Wordsworth: “The child is the father of the man.” Hence the man, or woman, is both his or her own father or mother, and yet still the child, even unto manhood or womanhood.
What, then, might we speculate that words are worth in settling this debate—in providing a more solid foundation upon which some kind of boundary wall, bidirectionally permeable as it may be, might be constructed? Let us start with etymology. ‘Infant’ comes into English by way of the French enfant (as in, Les Enfants Terribles), which has only the connotation of ‘child,’ but this in turn descends from the Latin infans, designating “one without speech.” Aha! Now we have it, yes, a distinction as clear as night and day to bound and separate ‘infant’ from ‘child’ or ‘adult.’
I have my doubts, however. You see, while I would not be much of a speech pathologist if I made light of such a momentous milestone as speech, but, on the other hand, what of all all the people who never come into possession of speech, or which lose its facility? Most assuredly these people are not infans—literal Latin interpretations aside. Nor does it sit well with me that the short period of time preceding which most children do come into possession of speech is followed by a much larger stretch of time over which all sorts of mighty accomplishments (and not only in the domain of speech and language) are made on the way to the moving goalposts of adulthood.
In speech pathology, we often speak of “adult language,” and hold this out as a kind of endpoint towards which (we hope) “child language,” in the particular instantiations of individual children themselves, is moving. These two classifications encompass a range of abilities too numerous to delve into here, but suffice it to say that what is generally being posited is that there is a tipping point at which the complexity of a child’s language, and the ways that they use it, are in some kind of parity with the complexity and usage of adult language in the aggregate. There are two obvious problems with this, at least if we entertain any hopes the movement between these categories to in turn substantiate our categories of ‘child’ and ‘adult.’ First, it assumes that this is progressive movement in which gain after gain occurs, and nothing is lost; second, it runs into the problem of circular reasoning, since we form our conception of what constitutes adult language by evaluating how adults use language—which of course requires that we already have a definition for the very thing we are seeking to define!
I fear, then, that I can do no better than Oedipus in answering the Sphinx’s riddle, and only respond with “wo/man” to “which creature walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?”
* Plastow, Michael G. The Ages of the Child https://www.ecritique.net/volumes/Volume_10/fwdecritiquevol102015pdfs/6_Ecritique%2010.%20MichaelPlastowTheagesofthechild.pdf