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Phonological Process: Cluster Reduction

Boy Cluster reductionPhonological Process: Cluster Reduction


Phonological processes are patterns of speech errors.  Children use these processes when trying to produce adult-like speech.  These errors affect entire groups or classes of sounds. Most children demonstrate some phonological processes when acquiring language.  While these error patterns are typical and at times very cute, if they persist past a certain age they become atypical.  Cluster reduction is one of the more common phonological process.

What is cluster reduction: 

Cluster reduction is a syllable structure process. It occurs when a child reduces a consonant cluster to a single consonant. A consonant cluster is when there are 2-3 consonants next to one another in a word (“sp” in space). With the word “space”, a child using cluster reduction might say this as “pace”. Cluster reduction can occur in any word position. Medial position: lipstick becomes “liptick”.  Final position: old becomes “ol”. While cluster reduction is a common speech error, its effects can reduce a child’s speech intelligibility. As the frequency with which a child uses cluster reduction increases, his speech intelligibility decreases.

Should I be concerned if my child is using the process of cluster reduction?

Like many phonological processes, cluster reduction is common. It is present in many young children’s speech.  Usually as a child’s speech and language skills become more mature, this process corrects itself.  In typical development, cluster reduction is often eliminated by 3½ years of age. If your child continues to demonstrate cluster reduction beyond 3½ years, it is recommended that you contact a speech-language pathologist.

If you have concerns with your child’s speech and language skills please contact Samantha at Chicago Speech and More by calling (847) 774-0582 or using the contact us form on the website.

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