Category Archives: Phonology and LIteracy

New School Phonology.

New School Phonology: Integrative Phonology for SLP Clinical Applications

Over the years I have noticed scholars picking up on early work we did at Kent State University in the 1970s addressing trading relationships in phonological and grammatical production as factors in clinical intervention. It is a robust factor and appears in normal language development. A primary aim of this line of investigation was to demonstrate sound-by-sound treatment is invalid for the most part. I believed we could change intervention to make it more efficient, significant and enjoyable for clinicians and children. However, when I returned to school practice for four years in Arizona schools I found that the treatment of “articulation disorders” lagged far behind. I wondered why the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association had allowed this to happen. This lead me to questions how ASHA keeps practice up-to-date through management of curriculum trends.


Integrative phonology means teaching sound structures in relation to grammar, meaning, prosody and information processing constraints. Because of integration one can expect broad generalizations across all components of expression. For example, treating articulation should improve morpho-syntactic development as well as sounds. Teaching isolated language structures out of context should be avoided and the motivation of the child should be considered. Phonology is essential to generalization of learning and academic performance.


Integrative phonology can reduce the fragmentation of the scope of practice by mapping relationships among the different types of treatment:

“speech sound production
articulation apraxia of speech
dysarthria a
pragmatics (language use, social aspects of communication)
literacy (reading, writing, spelling)”

In the area of literacy, what’s more, integrative phonology addresses methods of teaching phonological awareness within a linguistic hierarchy fostering articulation improvement charted in IEPs.

Best Practice

From the very beginning we sought to combat the teaching of isolated linguistic structures outside of the communication context. We observed some indications that children treated this way developed side effects, such as faulty generalization, disfluency and rule misapplication.

During my four years as a practicing school SLP I studied articulation / phonology practice and concluded it was out-of-date in American schools. I submitted a paper on the topic to The ASHA Leader and withdrew it after the editor said, “This wouldn’t do any good.” My impression was that this candid point of view was a public relations problem for ASHA. The paper was published elsewhere and was received favorably. I began to suspect ASHA was more concerned about image-making than improving graduate education.

I have always envisioned the simplification of developmental intervention by integrated treatment plans aimed at generalization across communication components. I imagined SLPs using their energies wisely to maximize improvement by letting generalization do the work. In school settings I saw 20 to 40 percent improvement of untreated sounds of the high functioning children.

At one of my practice sites I took on a boy with cleft palate impairment. He had been in treatment for several years for sound-by-sound treatment of affected sounds. His frustration level peaked and there was no evidence sound practice was the answer. In papers I have written I have pointed out that typical articulation treatment can be too aggressive, obliging clients to say sounds when their motor-speech systems cannot respond to the pressure. For 50 years articulation treatment have been production oriented. We know speech development is impaired but we continue to push the limits for “correct production.” I believe there are side effects if one notices.

I noticed with this boy that sound production was not the significant problem. He made sound errors because he could not produce rapid antagonistic syllable sequences using a faulty speech mechanism. The palate had been repaired but was scared and movements across syllable boundaries in words were slow and inaccurate. Of course when long words and phrases were targets, there was no chance of sustaining grammatical prosody to hit the embedded sounds accurately. Articulation errors were a symptom of syllable/morpheme production issues. I rewrote the IEP goals so rhythmic syllable production was a higher-level aim. He would have to hit sound targets in creative ways to suggest correct execution. (Many years ago a paper was published in JSHD about a client who had no tongue but intelligible speech. The acoustic effect is what is important.)

What I did was to give the boy relief from his labors of producing sounds. A “top down” and perceptual approach was adopted. The first aim was to maximize fun and success. He had had very little pleasure from speaking for therapy purposes.

My first task was simply to see if he could count the number of syllables in words. “How many syllables are in school bus?” When he said two, I was excited and he realized he got it right. No hard work. He was able to move on to find word boundaries and stress in longer words, and grammatical stress in phrases. No problem. Eventually I dropped to the lowest level of the linguistic hierarchy to see if he could perceive some of the sounds he could not produce in syllable sequences. This was more difficult but he could with extra tries. Perceptual skills seemed to be intact and available for phonological learning.

I began to read about phonological awareness for literacy training as understood in education. This method is nothing more than phonological intervention in the perceptual domain except there is a print connection.

I switched my articulation clients over to phonological awareness training and began to believe this could help production problems improve while facilitating reading development. Using prosodic contours with embedded features is a general approach with great promise to facilitate language development. When particular children have impaired speech production mechanisms, prosody intervention integrates and nurtures linguistic processing, placing less demand on brain resources for language development.

Prosody exercises are easy to design for success and fun. Music can be brought in for ear training the melody of speech. The boy had limited vocal range for speech and song could have helped him.


I began to realize, as well, that SLPs misdiagnosis young children with pervasive linguistic impairments, i.e. “learning disabilities” (developmental Broca’s aphasia). By calling these children SLI and treating articulation narrowly they prevent early diagnosis of learning disability.

A child with multiple articulation errors in speech can be dismissed too early, before the learning disability comes into focus as a result of classroom instruction. SLPs take themselves out of the treatment process too early, and LD identification happens too late.

Public Policy

On the public policy level I took the position that ASHA appears to have no central curriculum process to identify, clarify and implement critical changes in school practice. This “evidence-based” approach goes a long way toward improving ASHA accreditation “standards” as promulgated by The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). Certainly, phonology would be central to a credible accreditation system of standards.By linking communication development to learning as IDEA did one must change theory and method for graduate education. Years go by without changes in graduate education. Deflecting new and current practice into continuing education is wrong.

John M. Panagos

July 7, 2014

ASHA has used a FACEBOOK post to direct attention to the clinical summary of this new content:


New School Phonology: The ASHA Position

June, 2014

ASHA is preparing a document on “speech sound disorders” used as a ‘UMBRELLA TERM” referring to deficits of phonotactics, phonological representations, prosody and motor performance impacting speech sounds and speaker intelligibility. It is a “policy document” presenting guidelines for practice in all settings.

We look forward to hearing more about the project.

You can see our earlier posts on the subject, where we emphasize integration of phonological and language systems for cognitive-linguistic processing.

John M. Panagos



An ASHA policy statement on phonology should meet several requirements to validate it for graduate education, accreditation and clinical practice. The ASHA Board of Directors will complete the listed requirements.

1. The policy should be evidence-based and consistent with theory and research.

2. The authors should be listed and the document should appear in a logical location on the ASHA website.

3. The policy should build upon past ASHA policy documents.

4. Terminology (nomenclature) should be internally defined and used consistently.

5. Comments from practicing SLPs should be gathered and reported in the ASHA Leader.

6. Policy content should be incorporated into the Scope of Practice Document.

7. The policy statement should be INTEGRATIVE eliminating duplicate and confusing terms.

8.Sample case study material should be included to illustrate best practice.

9.The policy should be mailed to each program director of the country’s academic programs.

10.The Chairperson and The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) should sign off on the document and incorporate it into accreditation standards.


The accreditation “standard” for articulation and phonology demanded by CAA is virtually no standard at all. Each word is merely listed and that’s all. Imagine the American Medical Association stating in a single word that “surgery” is a training requirement for doctors.

July 7, 2014

ASHA has used a FACEBOOK post to direct attention to the clinical summary of this new content:

14. The History of School Speech Pathology

Cultural and Linguistic Barriers

“I became a teacher of students with disabilities in 1971. I was there when Public Law 94-142 planted its roots firmly in the soil of prejudice. Before 1975, we as a people of this nation prejudged and unknowingly misjudged who could benefit from public education. In our ignorance of how to educate, we assumed that some children could not be educated. The original P.L. 94-142 was enacted to provide keys to the schoolhouse door.” (Ratcliffe Testimony).

Resistance to Change

In 1994 the U. S. Department of Education archived a paper entitled, “Education Reforms and Students at Risk: A Review of the Current State of the Art” (EdReformStudies/EdReforms/chap1b.html). Striking was the candor:

“Throughout much of U.S. history, the separate and unequal schooling of diverse groups has been reinforced by social mores, justified by pseudo-science, and, in many cases, mandated by law. Ethnicity and class have been perhaps the most obvious and contentious bases for discrimination, but other student characteristics, such as gender and disability, have also been used to isolate and track students into “appropriate” courses regardless of potential or interest.”


In 2000, the U. S. Department of Education published a summary of progress made attributed to IDEA legislation.  “Cultural and linguistic diversity” was now center stage because of the ever-increasing presence of minority children in schools:

IDEA has supported the provision of culturally relevant instruction for diverse learners in mainstreamed environments. Throughout the 1980s, IDEA-supported Minority Handicapped Research Institutes documented that culturally and linguistically diverse students with disabilities make, at best, limited progress in school programs that employ “watered-down” instruction in segregated environments. Building on and extending the work of these institutes, IDEA has supported the development and validation of culturally relevant assessment and intervention practices “(

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in the 1990s began to address issues of multicultural practices:

“Students and Professionals Who Speak English with Accents and Nonstandard Dialects: Issues and Recommendations” (1998),

“Knowledge and Skills Needed by Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists to Provide Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services” (2004),

Brought on by the civil rights movement, “multiculturalism”was a growing national trend in all phases of society and education.


Over-identification is the tendency of schools to place non-disabled children in special education.  In the mid-60s this tendency was already being identified:  In 1968:

“…Dunn, citing U. S. Office of Education statistics, reported that ‘about 60 to 80 percent of the pupils taught by [teachers in mild mental retardation or MMR classes] are children from low status backgrounds — including Afro-Americans, American Indians, Mexicans, and Puerto Rican Americans; those from nonstandard English-speaking, broken, disorganized, and inadequate homes; and children from other non-middle class environments” (Monarch Center).

Non-disabled children who were brought into schools by compulsory education and civil rights laws were excluded again through special education placement.  In May of 2002, The Alliance for Excellent Education reported:

“The reauthorization bill will undoubtedly attempt to reform a system in which race often plays a role in whether a child is labeled learning disabled. Currently, African-American students account for 16 percent of the U.S. student population, but represent 32 percent of the student in programs for mild mental retardation.” 


Disproportionality and over-identification remain SLP issues today.



13. The History of School Speech Pathology

Progress in the General Curriculum

A problem growing out of the mental retardation rights movement promoted by The ARC and other groups was to find a way to make sure handicapped children were protected from curriculum neglect.  Before 1975 special education teachers often in isolated rooms taught silly things, like beads, blocks and colors.  And they continued doing so for long periods of time, even years. SLPs taught nouns likewise. The assumption seemed to be that mentally retarded pupils could not learn about Henry Ford and the assembly of automobiles.

Gradually, the “progress-in-the-general-curriculum” standard evolved to its current place in IDEA 2004.  Curriculum was eventually broadly conceived to include all the learning activities non-disabled children experience in a typical day.  Socializing in the cafeteria was included. Segregating handicapped from the lunchroom was no longer automatic.

 SLP Impact

The curriculum standard in one fell swoop forever changed the nature of speech-language pathology in schools, at the very least at the level of theories of learning and functionality, whether clinical supervisors at the university realized it or not, or whether written about in clinical textbooks.  Created was a hybrid model of clinical assessment and intervention.  Added to clinical criteria were questions of how handicapped school children processed knowledge.

Reading Example

A current example concerns whether SLPs should teach reading.  The simple analysis below reveals the underlying phonological and orthographic processing are almost one and the same:

Cognitive-linguistic relations:

Teacher-pupil discourse –Question/Answer–  Orthographic content

SLP-client discourse –Question/Answer– Phonological content 

Processing requirements are the same and one would expect linguistic generalization of learning between domains.  Phonological intervention is inherently a part of reading instruction.  SLPs can address the two-fold problem of clinical learning + academic learning in parallel and together.  And in fact they must, according to IDEA.

Board of Education v. Rowley

The question of knowledge processing was  brought out in the Rowley case. The Supreme Court disagreed with lower courts saying Amy Rowley did not need sign language interpretation to access the curriculum, and that a hearing an aid was enough (Karl Boettner,  University of Puget Sound Law Review, Vol. 7:183) :

“Amy Rowley was a highly motivated, intelligent, eight year old deaf girl. The district drafted Amy’s IEP, as the EHA requires, in the fall of her first grade. Her parents participated but were not satisfied with the results. The district’s Committee on the Handicapped” (COH) began Amy’s IEP process by developing a recommendation for Amy’s school. Although Amy’s parents had presented expert testimony that Amy needed a sign language interpreter, the COH’s recommendation did not include an interpreter. The COH did, however, recommend that Amy’s IEP include a hearing aid, a tutor and a speech therapist.”

Therefore, the speech therapists alone was not able to make the decision solely on the basis of clinical judgment and observations.  The speech therapist and the team had to also consider whether Amy would understand classroom instruction without sign language.  Again, this situation illustrates two-fold assessment. SLPs can’t fall back only on the “Everything-I-learned-in-Graduate-School” clinical standard.  The school setting requires more, particularly, an account of knowledge processing in addition to speech and language deficiencies.


“Saturday Night Fever is a 1977 drama film starring John Travolta as Tony Manero, an immature young man whose weekends are spent visiting a local Brooklyn discothèqueKaren Lynn Gorney as his dance partner and eventual friend (they never do date in the film and the film closes with their agreement to be friends), and Donna Pescow as Tony’s former dance partner and would-be girlfriend. While in the disco, Tony is the king.”  Wiki

5. History of School Speech-Language Pathology


In the 1960s money was flowing into schools and universities.  Research was encouraged and paid for.  On the horizons were significant changes in the speech pathology practice.  The “scope of practice” expanded as a result of research studies, speech science applications and linguistic theory.  Professor Duchan refers to “The Linguistic Era from 1965 to 1975 during which time we came to treat language disorders as separable from speech disorders and as being linguistic in nature…” Later pragmatics added to the language area amplifying the intensity of curricular change.  The new interest in “that language stuff” brought about tension among faculty, clinical supervisors, students and clinicians.  It came on hard and fast, taking no prisoners. 

In 1978 the American Speech and Hearing Association became the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. This was massive change in scope of practice to say nothing about critical changes in theory.

Scope of Practice Issues Arise

The language boom meant more “structures” to assess and   target in therapy.  For example, morphology came into focus and whole new area of intervention developed.  Vocabulary instruction became ever more complicated than the era of teaching nouns to retarded children.  What’s more, language was said to be nested in cognitive processing.  Teaching language structures required children to process the structures and not just produce them as memorized forms.  One should expect clients to learn strategies of processing and generalize structures.  

In the period authors created language tests for the components of grammar and semantic ability.  Speech therapists were not accustomed to extensive testing protocols and the interpretation of statistical outcomes.

School speech pathologists were now being pushed out of their comfort zone, doing stuttering, hearing, voice, vocabulary and articulation.  It meant more work to absorb new ideas and apply them to ever increasingly complex cases, including minority children with different styles of speaking and learning coming into schools as a result of civil rights acts. They were required to justify their plans to IEP teams and to report progress at the end of the year.  Their instruction had to be tied to the curriculum standards of the school.

One Experience

Work demands were changing and increasing, as SLP  Cindy Montalbano recounts.  She started in the field in the 1980s, servicing a variety of schools with few complications of practice. Now SLPs have office locations and are more of an integral part of the staff.  They do more case management and consulting.  There is more emphasis on working in the classrooms in cooperating with teachers (  This is of course the time when IEP planning and meetings were required of all related services specialists.  Fostering and documenting integrative planning was a premise of IDEA regulations.

15. New School Phonology and Cloud Computing

To rebuild our views of how phonology works in schools — in the school community — we are wise to return to some old notions from structural linguistics entailing communities of speakers using a common abstract code having some tolerance for variation (dialect, style, accent) as agreed to by the speakers. A child who uses an extreme variation of the code will produce discomfort for teachers and other children.

Code-use resembles modern cloud computing where individual computers belonging to a network of users have only minimal code hardware and software and the main system has a vast set up to interpret permissible and impermissible variations.  

In this world there are no handicapped persons and certainly no social judgments about users.  Only concern when the individual user does not exceed tolerable limits.

The training trick is to get every user to use the code properly.  It would not matter whether an Hispanic child has an accent and an white child has a medically-based phonological disability.  Understanding the right use of the code is key.

So many children with poor articulation development do not need to be in special education.

Teachers could teach linguistic principles in their literacy lessons as Leonard Bloomfield envisioned late in his career.  Lessons could be fun as the code is manipulated for humor and drama.  This type of freedom to play with language would be excellent preparation for literacy startup.

“You say Tomayto, I say Tomawto.”


Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Jose who?

Jose can you seeeeee….

Speech-language pathologists could use comical and lively prosody lessons too, setting up paradigms designed for fun and success without much out of context focus on dreary old target sounds.

“Teacher!  Leave us kids alone!”

14. New School Phonology: Wait to Fail!

The President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education (2001) found American schools follow a pattern members called “wait to fail.”  A modern phonology outlook (including articulation) brought forth by school speech-language pathologists can help to solve the wait to fail problem, as summarized by the Commission:

Finding 2: The current system uses an antiquated model that waits for a child to fail, instead of a model based on prevention and intervention. Too little emphasis is put on prevention, early and accurate identification of learning and behavior problems and aggressive intervention using research-based approaches. This means students with disabilities do not get help early when that help can be most effective. Special education should be for those who do not respond to strong and appropriate instruction and methods provided in general education.”

The quote, now 10 years old, should speak to SLPs if they are listening. Prevention is not something they do much of.  It is a pathology-driven field. Phonology is a general model of sounds, entailing language and cognitive principles, and entailing auditory processing, phonological awareness, grammatical expression and speech production. As such children with phonological delay first seen by SLPs are displaying underlying cognitive-linguistic issues that transfer into print processing. Print is mapped onto speech.

Many phonology children should be categorized by SLPs as learning disabled rather than SLI.  Say a five-year old boy has 5 or more articulation errors and falls two standard deviations below the mean on an articulation test.  This is an LD child if placement in special education is required. SLPs are prepared as well as any school employees to place children in the SLD category at the preschool level of linguistic learning and academic prediction.

The problem of phonological delay and disability will limit and predict subsequent language and reading performances before teachers and psychologists can detect problems. There is a good body of research showing “artic cases” morph into language and learning problems later, as well as social and academic success problems later. Fooling around with them as “artic cases” and then dismissing them after sounds are corrected is to abandon these children just as they are entering a critical stage of great academic need.

There is no reason to wait for failure. Prevention is likely if preschool language and literacy programming is started early, a fact long ago pointed out by researchers advocating for early intervention.  The President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education made this point firmly. 

Market in the 18th

15. New School Phonology: Prosodic Relationships

Within a framework of prosodic phonology we can see the true interrelationships between “speech” and “language” through the connecting principles of phonology. 

 A school child says, “He kicked the can, ” pronounced,   /’k:I duh ‘kae: /.   


It is traditional to say that there is an omission of final /k/, and the child might have a /k/ sound articulation problem. He is inconsistent.  The phonology interpretation  is that there is a final consonant deletion with movement of the past morpheme /t/ to the following word with initial consonant voicing.  The He morpheme is deleted by weak syllable deletion, since he + kick is a strong-weak (stress-unstress) sequence.   Length (/:/) is added to he to enlongate the intial footed sequence. The second (/:/) in can marks the underlying /n/.  The entire underlying syntactic representation is edited by various phonological processes, and processes operate across word, syllable and morpheme boundaries.


Uncontrolled phonological editing is a kind of an “articulation problem” but the problem is a deficiency in linguistic processing and prosody and not an ability to say sounds.


The idea that articulation is a matter of producing sounds is incorrect.   Restricting the diagnostic analysis to sounds blocks appreciation of the interactions of grammar and phonology, and deficits at higher levels of organization.   In the example we see how sentence morphology interacts with phonology, i.e., morpho-syntax.


Such an analysis solves the mystery of unexplained generalizations of learning, where articulation therapy seems to improve overall intellgibility others soon notice. 


An interesting implication of a failed viewpoint of over-categorization of speech and language sympoms is that practicing school SLPs believe scope of practice is expanding too fast and adding to workload.   Symptom treatment is a losing enterprise.


Assessment and treatment techniques spring up adding to the burden of having more and more therapies to master.  These techniques do not work on the principles of generalization.  So the school SLP must labor teaching every facet of speech and language almost from scratch.   Such micro-teaching is faithfully recorded in IEP records where the potential of generalization across the board and to academic subjects is obscured by unnecessary detail. 


At least SLPs can take advantage of the public relations aspects of articulation treatment.   One can tell teachers they should expect improvements in writing skills and these directly result from “speech therapy.”


The simple truth is that when one manipulates a child’s linguist system by way of controlled communicative interactions (discourse) all hell breaks out and the child begins to add detail to his or her linguistic rule system across modalities.   A cognitive model predicts this at least partially.


A child for whom generalization effects go unnoticed, and unplanned for, in one sense continues to qualify for special education placement with risks of stigmatization, such as being teased for being placed in special education. There is a kind of lowered expectation for improvement resulting from selective assessment and intervention.

(Panagos J, M., & Prelock, P. A., 1997. Prosodic analysis of child speech. Topics in Language Disorders. 17, 1–10)

13. New School Phonology: Misidentification of Accent

The dynamics of the misplacement of at-risk children as played out in IEP meetings can be illustrated with a case study example drawn from prior practice some 10 years ago.  

A seventh-grade teacher referred a boy for speech and language evaluation because he had a “terrible speech problem” in class. He was hard to understand and he did not speak much. The teacher insisted he go to special education because he needed help badly.

The boy was a native American child. The first step was to review academic records. It turned out when he entered school he was tested for knowledge of his native language and was regarded as a competent speaker of Navajo. However, he did not take instruction in English as a second language because the school district dropped the program for lack of funding.

In an interview with the boy he was at first reluctant to talk until we found a good topic, rodeo riding. He became animated and highly verbal in English talking of riding, keeping horses and competition. The topic was a marker of male experience, such as English-speaking boys talking about baseball rather than dolls.

Although fluency and English grammar were at least adequate, phonological intelligibility was low. Simply stated, the boy had a heavy Navajo accent when speaking English. He was not disabled by any reasonable standard.

At the team meeting to consider the SLP;s findings, the recommendation not to place the boy in special education was not well received. The teacher in good faith argued the boy needed help and asked where else could he go? He was being held back academically by poor speech. The team accepted the SLP’s recommendation with difficulty.

Many processes are illustrated by this case example. Although the teacher did care about the Navajo boy, the speech accent made him hard to teach. Teachers know about “articulation problems” but they do not know about accent problems. The school district had no system for remediation other than special education. The team leaned toward placement to solve the teacher’s problem, and the SLP had to carry the full justification for saying no. There was pressure to place a minority child adding to the SLPs caseload. Once minority children are placed in special education, they tend to stay there. It would take a very intense program of accent reduction to prove an exit from speech was the right decision. The SLP would serve as remedial teacher.

Yes, there are times when SLPs take on children because of perceived need only. However, placing minority children in special education to provide remedial assistance can have grave impact on their lives far exceeding the risks of having a relatively minor “speech problem.”

“…students who are placed in special education have a higher likelihood of obtaining a certificate instead of a diploma. They also experience lower levels of achievement, high drop-out rates, low wages, increased teenage pregnancy, and social isolation” (Emstac).

12. New School Phonology: The Fragmentation Problem

Old notions of speech therapy fragment current  thinking about school phonology. Here are some illustrations of the point.




1. Commercial Products.   Companies publish speech, language and hearing materials for school speech-language pathologists.   Authors are often working practitioners.   Materials correspond in rough manner to professional scope of practice categories.   To use only one example, LinguiSystems (East Moline, Ill, Spring catalog, 2011) divides speech and language products accordingly:



Vocabulary and Concepts



Phonological Awareness and Reading

Listening and Auditory Processing Grammar


All of these categories are interrelated in the actual processing of language.   For a catalog they are handy divisions.   But they are not an analogue of how the mind works in an SLI child being considered for enrollment in special education.


2. Scope of Practice.   The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association publishes information on scope of practice for speech-language pathologists.  This is made available to the public to state what SLPs can and cannot do.   Here language scope is defined:


“language (comprehension and expression)





pragmatics (language use, social aspects of communication)

literacy (reading, writing, spelling)

prelinguistic communication (e.g., joint attention, intentionality, communicative signaling)

paralinguistic communication”


Again, the interrelationships among the sub-categories of langauge are not spelled out.


3. Wikipedia.   Wikipedia is an internet-based open source enterprise allowing individuals and groups of individuals to publish information on a wide range of topics of public interest.  A recent description of speech-pathology distinguishes language and language processing and literacy:


“….language (i.e., phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatic/social aspects of communication) including comprehension and expression in oral, written, graphic, and manual modalities;


language processing; preliteracy and language-based literacy skills, phonological awareness.”


We see the taxonomic approach to specific areas of deficit.   This breakdown is like the ASHA scope of practice but notice phonological awareness is separated from phonology.


In a related section we learn about speech sound disorders:


“Speech sound disorders involve difficulty in producing specific speech sounds (most often certain consonants, such as /s/ or /r/), and are subdivided into articulation disorders (also called phonetic disorders) and phonemic disorders. Articulation disorders are characterized by difficulty learning to physically produce sounds.”


Now “articulation” is completely disassociated from language and phonology. 


Another Wiki entry for school speech pathology defines articulation problems without reference to phonology.


“An articulation disorder may be diagnosed when a child has difficulty producing phonemes, or speech sounds, correctly. When classifying a sound, speech pathologists refer to the manner of articulation, the place of articulation, and voicing. A speech sound disorder may include one or more errors of place, manner, or voicing of the phoneme.”




Fragmentation such as illustrated above results from the application of the “diagnostic-prescriptive” philosophy in which symptoms are classified and treated as independent disorders.  This view ignores dynamic assessment and relational thinking such as that which can be achieved via cognitive models.   When “processing” is mentioned it remains a category of treatment, not an integrating principle of assessment and intervention. 


Professor Judy Duchan traces the growth of speech-language pathology and describes the how different categories of intervention evolved as entities added to scope of practice.


In structural linguistics prior to the modern era classification was considered to be the essence of characterizing the language system.   Leonard Bloomfield was known for it.    The American linguist Noam Chomsky and colleagues circa 1960 expressed the relationsional principle with reference to “sound-meaning” correspondences.   Phonology builds relationships between thoughts, speech and perception when talking about linguistic performance. It has had that historical role since Paul Broca identified the “faculty of speech” in 1861 though modern cognitive science has moved welll beyond localization of function.   Cognitive processing rests in the realm of “linguistic performance” as Chomsky called it.   During the “moment of speech,” there is a dynamic interplay among components of speech and language to achieve adaptive fluent expression.


The interrelationships among language abilities is the basis for generalization of learning.  SLI children are incapable of processing discrete categories as described in commercial catalogues.  They use a wide  variety of processing strategies to drill down into specific details, and accordingly see relationships and generalize.  When therapies are poorly constructed, as in very restrictive drill and practice routines, the children continue to process beyond the material presented, generalizing on their own.  SLPs might not even notice these generalizations.  Teachers and parents sometimes report progress in other areas SLPs are surprised to hear about.