Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

pp 2231-2233

Phonological Development

  • Elizabeth R. EernisseAffiliated withIrving B. Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Psychology Yale University School of Medicine, Chief, Child Psychiatry Children's Hospital at Yale-New Haven Child Study CenterDepartment of Language and Literacy, Cardinal Stritch University Email author 


Phonological development refers to the gradual acquisition of an adultlike system of speech sounds that are used to convey meaning in a language. Phonological development can be considered in terms of both perception and production of speech sounds.

Historical Background

Historically, the development of speech sounds has been characterized in terms of the development of articulation abilities, with recent attention being paid to the notion that a larger set of rules and linguistic representations may also govern how individuals acquire speech sounds.

Current Knowledge


Research has demonstrated that infants are aware of speech sounds long before they are able to produce them. For example, infants at 1 month of age are able to discriminate speech sound categories such as the difference between phonemes /p/ and /b/ (i.e., categorical perception; Eimas, Siqueland, Jusczyk, & Vigorito 1971). Over time, infants also develop the ...

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