Phonological Process Series: What is Stopping?

[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 of stopping. This phonological process is a form of substitution involving two forms of speech sounds. Stop sounds are those sounds, such as P and B, that involve a single, explosive speech sound. Fricative speech sounds, such as F and S, involve a speech sound with longer, obstructed airflow with characteristic hissing sounds. In the process of stopping, stop sounds (P or B) are produced instead of fricatives (F and S). If you've ever heard "pan" for "fan," or "dump" for "jump," you may have heard an example of stopping in casual conversation.

As with many other phonological processes, stopping may be considered typical until a certain age range, depending on the sound in question. Substitutions of F and S should be eliminated by age 3; V and Z substitutions should be eliminated by age 3.5; SH, CH, and J substitutions should be eliminated by age 4.5; and TH substitutions should be eliminated by age 5. After these ages, however, stopping may be considered a phonological disorder.

In therapy, it's typical to target stopping using a minimal pairs approach, which involves practicing two words that only differ by one, target sound (FAN and PAN, for example). Visual cues such as correct articulator placement and auditory discrimination and awareness activities can also be a part of comprehensive speech therapy for stopping.

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

Paul Rice, M.S., CCC-SLP


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