Producing speech sounds that are appropriate for age and dialect
Articulation involves the movement of the tongue, lips, and jaw to make speech sounds. Most children make some mistakes as they learn to say new words. It is not unusual for a 5 or 6-year-old child to make a "w" sound for an "r" sound (e.g., "wabbit" for "rabbit"), an "f" sound for a "th" sound (e.g., "toof" for "tooth"), or produce the s and z sounds with a slight lisp.
An articulation disorder is diagnosed if the speech sound errors occur past the expected age for correct production. Some children produce patterns of sound errors. An example is a pattern called fronting. This occurs when children produce "t" and "d" for "k" and "g" as in "tup" for "cup" or "dum" for "gum".
It is important for every child with speech-sound difficulties to have a comprehensive evaluation performed by a licensed, certified speech-language pathologist.