Phonological Process Series: Fronting

[In this series, we explore the major phonological processes that children use in speech, as well as strategies for targeting them at home]

What are Phonological Processes? 

A phonological process is a pattern that young children adapt to simplify adult speech sounds. All children use these processes at some point in time while their speech and language skills are still developing because they don’t have to ability to coordinate the articulators -- lips, tongue, teeth, etc. -- for clear, “adult-like” speech. Due to this developmental process, children will simplify words in predictable ways until they develop the skills required to produce them clearly. A familiar example of this might be a 2-year-old child saying “wa-wa” for “water” or “nana” for “banana”. 


Today, we explore the process known as fronting. This process involves articulating sounds made in the back of the mouth, such as K and G, in the front of the mouth instead, typically as T and D, respectively. If you've ever heard a child call a cat a "tat," or heard someone say "ready, set, do!," then you may have heard an example of fronting.

Like some phonological processes, fronting is considered typical up to a certain age range. In this case, if a child is two or three years old, this pattern isn't considered atypical; however, if the pattern persists after a child turns 4 years old, it may be beneficial to contact a speech-language pathologist for screening.

In therapy, it's typical to target this pattern using a "minimal pairs" approach. In this strategy, children repeat two words that differ by only one sound, typically the target sound (for example, K or KEY) and the corresponding processed sound (T in this example, or the full word TEA). By repeating sets of minimal pairs words, children quickly learn to verbally and auditorily differentiate the two different sounds in question.

Have more questions about fronting or other phonological processes? Reach out to a Sidekick therapist or one of our offices today.

Paul Rice, M.S., CCC-SLP