What’s in a name: How should we describe and define speech sound disorder and why does it matter?

Yvonne Wren*, Helen Stringer, Kakia Petinou, Marit Clausen, Lucy Southby, Yolanda Holt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


Background: The term speech sound disorder or SSD is now used internationally as a label for children with difficulties in the acquisition and mastery of the speech sound system or systems of the languages they are exposed to. This overarching term covers a range of conditions and presentations and also overlaps with other labels. In an online panel series organised by the Child Speech Committee of the International Association of Communication Sciences and Disorders, the term SSD was explored in terms of how it relates to other conditions and how that affects our descriptions and definitions of children’s presentations and needs. The aim of this panel is to summarise the presentations from those panel meetings and to build on these through discussion with conference attendees, leading to clearer and more consistent terminology for use in research and clinical practice.

Method: In this panel, specialists in SSD research will consider how definitions and descriptions of SSD are used in children with co-occurring developmental language disorder and in children born with cleft palate. We will also consider how concepts of speech difference vary across countries and across different cultural groups. The presentations will be used to generate discussion about terminology in SSD and to explore the degree of variation which exists internationally in labelling and description of children with SSD.

Results: This panel will encourage debate in an area which currently relies on assumptions. We assume that SSD means the same thing to all people and that labels applied to subtypes of SSD and descriptions of presentations are universal. This panel will explore the degree to which that is true and will help lead us towards consistency in the labels and descriptions applied to children with SSD.

Conclusion: The discussions from this panel will contribute to ongoing work on the development of consistency in international terminology used with children with SSD.

1. SSD and DLD - where do they overlap and where do they separate? - Helen Stringer, UK; Kakia Petinou, Cyprus; Marit Clausen, Denmark.
2. SSD and cleft palate – how differences in anatomy and physiology affect the way we label and describe SSD in children – Lucy Southby, UK
3. SSD and speech difference in diverse communities – where should we differentiate? – Yolanda Holt, USA.
Disclosure: The original online panels that are summarized in this panel are available online at the IALP Website and are being written up as a special issue for the International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2023
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023
EventInternational Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association Conference - University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
Duration: 4. Jul 20237. Jul 2023
Conference number: 19


ConferenceInternational Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association Conference
LocationUniversity of Salzburg
Internet address


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