Phoneme Collapse

If you're wondering what a phoneme collapse is or how to treat it, this article is for you!

Devon Lawrey, CCC-SLP
By Devon Lawrey, CCC-SLP
April 24, 2023
Phoneme Collapse

**What is a phoneme collapse? **

A phoneme collapse happens when a child substitutes one sound for several others. The more sounds that are “collapsed” into the single sound the more the child’s speech intelligbility is impacted. It usually seen in more severe phonological impairments.

A child may use the /k/ phoneme for /s/, /d/, /t/, /v/, /z/, /f/, /m/, /sh/, and /ch/.

**How do I treat a phoneme collapse? **

The best approach to target a phoneme collapse is [](multiple oppositions). In multiple oppositions, you contrast the known sound which would be /k/ in the example above and 2-4 unknown sounds, those would be any of the sounds that are substituted in the example above.

There are a few important considerations when choosing targets. You want to choose sounds that are different from each other and the substituted sound. You’ll want to consider the place, manner, voicing, linguistic unit, and frequency that the sound occurs in the English language.

Using the example above, /k/ is a stop, velar, voiced. Some appropriate targets may be: /s/, /m/, and /ch/. These sounds all vary by place, manner, and voicing from each other and the substituted sound.

Your targets will be rhyming words. You may choose K vs S M CH for one set of target words. You create 3 set of words, these can be real or non-real words.

If you’d like to know the step-by-step process to implement multiple oppositions approach, hop over to our page on ([]multiple oppositions approach).

Topics discussed in this article:
Speech Sound DisordersTherapy Tips

Devon Lawrey, CCC-SLP

Devon Lawrey, CCC-SLP has been practicing speech therapy throughout the state of Michigan for six years. She has her Master's Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Western Michigan University. Her passion in life is collaborating with families to support their child's individual communication needs and improve their overall quality of life.