Articulation delays/disorders are part of a larger group called speech sound disorders.

Speech sound disorders consist of articulation disorders (speech errors for certain sounds - motor level) and phonological disorders (pattern of speech errors - linguistic level). They are also known as functional speech disorders, as in, there is no known cause. You can read more about the differences between them in our Articulation vs. Phonology article.

In summary, articulation disorders relate to the motor aspects that contribute to a speech sound disorder; problems with speaking certain sounds, like /s/ or /r/. Presence of an articulation disorder can decrease a child’s intelligibility, or their ability to be understood by the person with whom they are speaking.

4 Types of Articulation Errors

Substitution: a sound is substituted for another sound. For example, saying the /w/ sound instead of the /r/ sound, such as “wabbit” instead of “rabbit”

Omission (deletion): a sound within a word is left out. For example, deleting the /s/ in “speech” and saying “peech”

Distortion: a sound produced does not sound like the natural sound within the word

Addition: a sound is added onto a word. For example, saying “gahreen” for the color “green”

Usually, these types of errors are identified when the individual is younger in age, when speech sounds (phonemes) are beginning to develop. However, it is common to see a child present with one of these errors at a very young age and have it resolve on its own. If a child presents with an articulation disorder, meaning errors in speech are occurring past the average age of acquisition (see table below), intervention is typically warranted. The first step of effective intervention is creating goals, which we will talk about below.

Source: ASHA

Depending on the results from the screener/evaluation, intervention (or speech therapy) will take an articulation approach, phonological approach, or sometimes a combination of the two. The goals below will focus on goals created following the articulation approach.

Writing Articulation Goals

As seen above, speech goals should be written with 3* components in mind: the DO statement, the CONDITION statement, and the CRITERION statement.

*Also commonly included is consistency (we incorporate this!). Aka does the individual have to meet a specific criterion more than once? A common example of this may include across 3 consecutive sessions. This is usually something understood by the therapy organization/service provider and is sometimes/sometimes not included in the written goal itself. This is to ensure that the skill has been generalized (e.g. the child achieves 90% accuracy in 3 sessions, not just 1), and provides more reliable data that the skill has been properly mastered.

DO statement

What the client is actually going to DO and the specific skill they will be working towards.

Example: produce the /l/ phoneme in the initial position of words

CONDITION statement

The specific setting and/or context your client will work on this skill.

Example: at the word level

CRITERION statement

How the client’s performance will be measured.

Example: in 9 out of 10 trials

DO + CONDITION + CRITERION

Example: [Client] will produce the /l/ phoneme in the initial position of words, at the word level, in 9 out of 10 trials.

There you have it! An example using our Goal Writing Formula containing the DO + CONDITION + CRITERION (don’t forget to think about consistency!) for increasing articulation.

Articulation Goal Bank

It should be noted that when specific sounds are targeted, they typically follow the following hierarchical sequence: sound in isolation → sound within the initial position of words, final position of words, medial position of words → sound within short phrases → sound within sentences → sound within connected speech.

Specific Sounds

Example #1: [Client] will produce the __ phoneme in isolation, during various drill exercises, with 90% accuracy.

Example #2: [Client] will produce the __ phoneme in the final position of words, during structured tasks, in 9 out of 10 trials.

Example #3: [Client] will produce the __ phoneme within connected speech, during structured reading tasks, in 9 out of 10 opportunities.

Substitution

Example #1: [Client] will decrease substitutions (e.g., ___ ) when produced at the word level, during a variety of drill exercises, with 90% accuracy.

Example #2: [Client] will eliminate the substitution of __ phoneme for __ phoneme, when produced at the word level, during a structured activity, in 9 out of 10 trials.

Example #3: [Client] will reduce substitutions (e.g., ___ ) when produced within words in connected speech, during structured/unstructured tasks, in 9 out of 10 opportunities.

Omission (deletion)

Example #1: [Client] will decrease the omission of phonemes (e.g., ___ ) when produced at the word level, during a variety of drill exercises, with 90% accuracy.

Example #2: [Client] will eliminate the omission of __ phoneme within words, during a structured activity, in 9 out of 10 trials.

Example #3: [Client] will reduce the omission of phonemes (e.g., ___ ), when produced at the sentence level, in 9 out of 10 opportunities.

Distortion

Example #1: [Client] will produce CVC words (e.g., ___ ) free from distortions, within structured activities, with 90% accuracy.

Example #2: [Client] will decrease distortion of the phoneme __ in the initial position of words, within drill exercises, in 9 out 10 trials.

Example #3: [Client] will reduce distortion of the phoneme __ within words, during various articulation drills, in 9 out of 10 opportunities.

Addition

Example #1: [Client] will reduce the addition of phonemes (e.g., ___ ) at the word level, within drills, with 90% accuracy.

Example #2: [Client] will eliminate the addition of __ phoneme within various words (e.g., ___ ), during structured activities, in 9 out of 10 trials.

Example #3: [Client] will eliminate the addition of phonemes within connected speech, during naturally occurring conversations, in 9 out of 10 opportunities.

For some of the goals presented above, you may have noticed that you can mix and match some of the do, condition, and criterion statements as you see fit for your client. It is important to note that these goals serve as a reference and results yielded from your assessment will guide you to make the specified goals necessary for your client/loved one to succeed.


Feel free to checkout our additional goal-related resources and subscribe to our site to have a first look at ones to come:

  1. How to Write Receptive Language Goals
  2. How to Write Pragmatic Language Goals
  3. How to Write Play Skills Goals
  4. How to Write AAC Goals

Citations/further resources:

https://www.asha.org/practice-portal/clinical-topics/articulation-and-phonology/#collapse_5

https://www.asha.org/siteassets/Practice-Portal/Late-Language-Emergence/Consonant-Acquisition-Chart.pdf