An articulation disorder involves mispronouncing speech sounds by omitting, distorting, substituting, or adding sounds which can make speech difficult to understand. Children may have a couple of sounds in error, but will consistently make these errors on the same sounds in words.
When a child has a simple lisp producing TH instead of S like “thing” instead of “sing” or “yeth” instead of “yes” substitutes W for L or R or other similar errors, he/she is demonstrating an articulation disorder. Articulation refers to the manner in which a child produces a sound and the placement of the tongue, lips, and teeth. Common articulation errors are those listed above, in addition to F for TH.
Many articulation errors are developmental in nature; that is some sounds are later developing, and many children will produce these sounds incorrectly until they mature. This is one of the latest sounds to develop between the ages of 6 an 8. Therefore, if a 7-year-old can not yet say this sound, it is not reason to be concerned.
The most common error sounds are S, L and R. Some school therapists will not treat children with these errors until they are 6 or 7; however, if a child shows that he/she can be stimulated for these sounds, therapy can be successful when children are younger. A child with articulation errors should always be evaluated when they are young. If an SLP feels that therapy is not appropriate at the time of the evaluation, at least the child will be monitored on a regular basis until they are ready for therapy. In addition, the earlier therapy begins, the more successful it will be.
Articulation therapy consists of drill exercises and various cues to help the child correct his/her sound productions. These cues may be verbal (e.g. tell the child where to place his /her tongue) or visual (having the child look at the therapist’s mouth or in the mirror) or tactile (i.e. touch; having the child slide her finger down her arm when making the [s] sound. The PROMPT tactile-kinesthetic cueing system may also be used to promote correct sound production. Frequent practice is essential for articulation therapy to be successful.
I have included a real cute video of a little boy that has trouble with the letter T