This advice-column-style blog for SLPs was authored by Pam Marshalla from 2006 to 2015, the archives of which can be explored here. Use the extensive keywords list found in the right-hand column (on mobile: at the bottom of the page) to browse specific topics, or use the search feature to locate specific words or phrases throughout the entire blog.
Q: I still cannot seem to explain to colleagues the difference between articulation, oral motor, and phonology. Can you help me one more time?
This is the line of thinking I use. It may help you explain these ideas to others––
- Movements are used to make phonemes.
- Phonemes are used to make syllables.
- Syllables are used to make words.
- Words are used to make phrases.
- Phrases are used to make sentences.
- Sentences are used to make paragraphs.
- Words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs are used to express the language.
- The language is used to communicate with others.
Our clients can have trouble in any one or more of these areas––
- The client may have difficulty moving the speech mechanisms (oral-motor).
- The client may have trouble producing individual phonemes (articulation).
- The client may have problems sequencing phonemes into syllables (phonology).
- The client may not be able to put syllables into words (phonology/morphology).
- The client may not be able to organize words into phrases (syntax).
- The client may have difficulty putting phrases into sentences (syntax).
- The client may have trouble arranging sentences into paragraphs (syntax).
- The client may be unable to use words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs to express ideas (language in general).
- The client may not be able to use the language to communicate with others (functional communication/pragmatic language skills).
When viewed simply — as in this list — the differences and cross-overs between the three become plain.