Consonants & Vowels

Speech Pathology in OG

Speech pathology is important in creating sounds, and this is important in Orton Gillingham because the method relies on teaching in a three-prong approach – auditory, kinesthetic and visual.

For a learner with no speech issues, I think the most taught is that there is such a thing a voiced and unvoiced. Let them put their hand on their throat and feel the difference when saying “th” as the word mother versus the word thumb. Mother is voiced th, and thumb is unvoiced. Same th, but sounds differently when one is voiced and unvoiced. This can help feel the letters in the body, as well as hear the difference.

If the learner is having difficultly with a sound, adding voiced/unvoiced feeling of the throat may help.

I’ve enlisted a Speech Pathologist, Tara Friedman of Tara Speech Therapy, to help explain more about speech pathology and how speech affects learning.

Voiced or Unvoiced?

By Tara Friedman of Tara Speech Therapy

All of the consonant phonemes in English are organized on a Placement and Manner Chart by voicing, place of articulation, and manner of articulation.

Voicing refers to the activity of the vocal folds (chords). When vocal folds are wide apart, they are not vibrating and are considered voiceless (or “unvoiced”). When the vocal folds are closely together and vibrating, consonants are “voiced.”

Manner of articulation refers to the way the articulators are set so that the resonance affect (voiced) is possible.

Place of articulation is the description of the place what spot on the mouth are affected by the speech – lips, tongue, teeth.

Technical Terms of Speech & Place of Articulation

Below are examples of the technical terms for the placement of lips and tongue and the sound made, voiced or unvoiced.

bilabial – lips: /p, b, m/ (/b and m/ are voiced and /p/ is voiceless) 

alveolar – tip of tongue touches bump behind top teeth: /d, t, z, s, n, l/ (/d, z, n, l/ are voiced). (/t and s/ are voiceless)

palatal: tip of tongue touches the middle of the roof of the mouth (sh, z as in measure, dz as in judge, ch, sh and ch are voiceless, /z/ and /dz/ are voiced)

velar: back part of tongue touches the soft palate: /k,g, ng/, /k/ is voiceless and /g and ng are voiced/

labiodental: lower lip articulates with upper teeth; /v and f/ /v/ is voiced and /f/ is voiceless.

dental: tip of the tongue articulates with the teeth /voiced th and voiceless th/

How Speech Affects Learning

Children who have problems with speech-language skills may also have difficulty with learning how to read and spell. Research shows verbal skills are influential in developing reading skills.

Children who have difficulty with verbal production need to be able to associate sounds with letters, and then segment those apart in order to successfully learn to read and spell.

Children with articulation errors may spell a word with the errored sound they substitute or delete a phoneme (a sound). A child may produce a sound with a voice when it is a voiceless sound or may take away the voice for a voiced sound to make it voiceless.

Voiced versus voiceless sounds production could impact blending of sounds together in consonant vowel consonant words and reading of these sounds as well. Children tend to sound out the phoneme as the way they produce it. For example, one may say /big/ for /pig/. This child is adding a voice to the /p/ phoneme which is voiceless and changes the /p/ to a /b/.

If There’s Trouble, Speech Therapy Can Help

Speech and language delays/disorders can be categorized as receptive and expressive language, voice, fluency, or articulation. It is common to have delays in both language and articulation.

For language there is a receptive and an expressive piece. Typically, a child with a language delay has difficulties with both receptive and expressive language.

Receptive language is the ability to understand and follow verbal information. A child with a receptive language disorder can have difficulties understanding, following, and retaining verbal information. The lack of ability to understand and remember verbal information or instructions correctly can significantly impact the child’s ability to complete tasks or assignments as expected. A child with a receptive language delay can be impacted especially when verbal directions are given orally with multiple steps.

The other area of a language delay is expressive language. Expressive language is the ability to verbally express your thoughts using the correct vocabulary (semantics), word order (syntax), and correct word endings (morphology).

Language delays in both receptive and expressive language can impact reading in re-telling the story, sequencing the events of a story, reading comprehension, finding the main idea, and summarizing.

Fluency is also called stuttering. It is how well speech flows when talking. Someone who stutters may repeat sounds, like t-t-t- table, use “um” or “uh”, or pause a lot when talking. Many young children go through a period of stuttering between ages 3-5. Most children outgrow stuttering. The extra sounds added or pauses could impact fluency of reading and rate of reading.

Voice is how our voices sound. Some may sound hoarse, lose voice easily, talk too loudly, or through our noses, or unable to make sounds.

Articulation is the production of sounds/phonemes and how we sequence them together. Articulation is categorized in several different ways.  Some children substitute sounds for the sounds that they are unable to produce. 

Phonological processing is when a child has a pattern of errors such as initial consonant, deletion final consonant deletion, stopping, fronting, syllable reduction, and voicing.

Apraxia of speech is a motor speech disorder.  A child with apraxia of speech has difficulty sequencing sounds and getting the motor movements together on command.

Speech therapy helps to remediate the areas of weakness. There is a battery of assessments that can be given to access where the weaknesses are and to see if there are any articulation pattern errors.

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About the Contributor:

Tara Friedman has been a Speech-Language Pathologist for 16 years, with a Georgia Speech Pathology License through the Georgia Speech Language Pathology and Audiology Board. Currently, she works in Atlanta, Georgia with the Cobb County School system, primarily with the preschool population, including Special Needs Preschool, Deaf Hard of Hearing Preschool, children with receptive and expressive language delay, and speech sound disorder. She has also worked with kids in Fulton County Schools.

Tara also works in private practice, both in person and through teletherapy sessions, specializing in early intervention, speech sound development, parent education, childhood apraxia of speech, phonological processing disorder, working with the deaf and hard of hearing population, getting non-verbal children with autism to communicate/talk using agent + action+ object boards/AAC devices.

She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in Communication Processes and Disorders, and Master’s in Communication Processes and Disorders from State University of West Georgia.

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