“How Do I Teach /r/?” – Part 2

“You know where it ends, Yo it usually depends, On where you start” – from “What It’s Like” by Everclear

Photo by Andre Moura on Pexels.com

Do you use any of these types of media anymore? Me neither.

Maybe our approach to treating SSDs needs to change with the times, too. (And, no, that doesn’t mean stick an iPad with an ‘artic’ app in front of the kid who has a phonological disorder!)

This post is the second part of my response to a new SLP who asked me, “How do I teach /r/?” You can find Part 1 here.

Scenario 2 – The child (or adolescent) who presents with vocalic /r/ errors

Let’s remember that the English liquids /l, r/ are true consonants at the beginning of the syllable/word and take on more vowel-like properties at the end of the syllable/word. You might recall r/l referred to as the ‘semi-vowels’, ‘r-controlled vowels, or vocalic /l, r/. This distinction is important. Whereas kids can substitute [w] or [j] for the liquids syllable-/word-initially, they don’t have the option to substitute a glide when the liquids occur syllable-/word-finally. Why? Because (and kids ‘know’ this), the liquids only occur syllable-initially in English. So, kids substitute an open vowel instead.

Consistent substitution of an open vowel for /l, r/ syllable-finally is a phonological error pattern and it should be treated as one.

So, what’s an SLP to do? First, I hope you’ve stabilized production of the /l, r/ as true consonants syllable-initially before you decided to tackle the vocalic versions. If you haven’t, I’d recommend that you do, then come back to this post

It can be challenging to find or develop minimal word pairs to address vocalic /r/ errors. That’s because not every child will use the same open vowel substitution error pattern. Here again, I think developing non-sense (NSW) pairs is helpful. As with consonantal /r/, the vowel nucleus will be your best friend or worst enemy as you are trying to establish correct production of vocalic /r/. Front vowels are your friends. If you would like some help developing the NSW sets, please feel free to contact me.

I’ll explain the theory and research evidence behind using NSW first in treatment in the next post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: