Articulation of speech refers to the production and clarity of speech sounds in isolation, speech sounds within words and sentences, and overall speaking intelligibility within conversation. Your clinician will conduct an oral-motor examination and ask about hearing status. To assess articulation, a complete inventory of consonant and vowel sounds is obtained. If subsitutions, omissions, and/or distortions are observed, your clinician determines whether these are considered within normal expected age range. For example, it is a normal developing pattern for a 3 year-old to say "Wook at dis." for /Look at this./. In contrast, a distortion such as a lateralized lisping of the "s" sound is considered an error pattern for which remediation is warranted.
Developmental Apraxia of Speech (DAS) is a motor speech disorder that affects a child's ability to accurately produce consonants/vowel sounds, and his/her ability to accurately sequence/combine sounds. When the brain sends signals to the articulators, there is somehow a disruption in coordinating mouth movements. There is controversy regarding the diagnosis of DAS, even among clinicians, and it is often not labelled until the age of 3. A toddler with significant speech difficulty may present with what is considered a motor component to an existing articulation delay, and in this way may be monitored for signs of DAS.