Phonological and articulation treatment approaches in Portuguese children with speech and language impairments: a randomized controlled intervention study


Address correspondence to: Marisa Lobo Lousada, Escola Superior de Saúde, Universidade de Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal; e-mail:



In Portugal, the routine clinical practice of speech and language therapists (SLTs) in treating children with all types of speech sound disorder (SSD) continues to be articulation therapy (AT). There is limited use of phonological therapy (PT) or phonological awareness training in Portugal. Additionally, at an international level there is a focus on collecting information on and differentiating between the effectiveness of PT and AT for children with different types of phonologically based SSD, as well as on the role of phonological awareness in remediating SSD. It is important to collect more evidence for the most effective and efficient type of intervention approach for different SSDs and for these data to be collected from diverse linguistic and cultural perspectives.


To evaluate the effectiveness of a PT and AT approach for treatment of 14 Portuguese children, aged 4.0–6.7 years, with a phonologically based SSD.

Methods & Procedures

The children were randomly assigned to one of the two treatment approaches (seven children in each group). All children were treated by the same SLT, blind to the aims of the study, over three blocks of a total of 25 weekly sessions of intervention. Outcome measures of phonological ability (percentage of consonants correct (PCC), percentage occurrence of different phonological processes and phonetic inventory) were taken before and after intervention. A qualitative assessment of intervention effectiveness from the perspective of the parents of participants was included.

Outcomes & Results

Both treatments were effective in improving the participants’ speech, with the children receiving PT showing a more significant improvement in PCC score than those receiving the AT. Children in the PT group also showed greater generalization to untreated words than those receiving AT. Parents reported both intervention approaches to be as effective in improving their children's speech.

Conclusions & Implications

The PT (combination of expressive phonological tasks, phonological awareness, listening and discrimination activities) proved to be an effective integrated method of improving phonological SSD in children. These findings provide some evidence for Portuguese SLTs to employ PT with children with phonologically based SSD.