"Gimme an R": Cheers for Treatment Resources
By Judith Maginnis Kuster
Remember the old high school cheer where the cheerleaders would request the crowd repeat a sound, and it always worked!
I was recently reminded of the struggles involved in working with /r/ disortions when I received the following request:
In a "former life" I read an article about correctng the mis-articulation of the "R" sound. If I am remebering correctly, this would have been in 1964 - 1968. I successfully used the method advocated by the article. . . . I would like to find the article. . . . However, since I left the field over thirty years ago, I haven't any idea where to start looking. Do you have any suggestions?
I advised the write to look at E.L. Slipakoff's "An approach to the correction of the defective /r/" in the Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders (1967 Vol. 32 no. 1, pp 71-75) and also to check "A Collection of Approaches to the 'R' Sound" (www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster2/therapy/rtherapy.html) which provides an extensive bibliography, suggestions for teaching the sound, and links to several additional Web sites.
The archives of Caroline Bowen's phonologicaltherapy mailing list (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/phonologicaltherapy/) contain an interesting tidbit from Peter Flipsen Jr. (posted March 9, 2002) that may help explain some of the frustrations in modifying the /r/.
Bob Mason pointed out something back in the early 1980's that a lot of clinicians don't know. The human tongue grows at its most rapid rate between age 5 1/2 and 7 1/2 years. During production of /r/ we have to rely totally on kinesthetic and proprioceptive feedback from the tongue itself (the tongue doesn't really contact anything else during /r/ so there is no tactile feedback). If we try to work on /r/ during this period of very rapid growth, the feedback the child gets from the tongue may be changing literally from week to week - it's no wonder that we often experience slow progress when working on /r/ during this period.
Considering that information, if you have a child with a resistant /r/ in your caseload, freely available treatment ideas and activities are available on-line. Below are a few examples.
Seeing and Hearing the /r/ Sound
- The Sounds of Spoken English (www.uiowa.edu/%7Eacadtech/phonetics/#) - choose the liquid consonant /r/ and the central monothong vowels - stressed and unstressed "er"
- Voycabulary (www.voycabulary.com) makes words on any web page into links to various dictionaries. Choosing the Merriman-Webster on-line dictionary, provides audio files of pronunciation for each word. Create a web page of /r/ words for home practice or use one by Jennifer Christy (http://clow.ipsd.org/academics_speech_at-home_r-list.html).
On-line activities for the /r/ sound
- Speaking of Speech Materials Exchange (www.speakingofspeech.com/generic.html?pid=26) - Page 1 contains PDFs of ER Final Cards, R Initial_Cards, OR Cards, /r/ Allophone Poster, R and S Go Fish, R Bingo (three versions), R homework. Page 2 contains Minimal Pairs: /r/ and /w/
- Although QUIA has become a "subscription" site, the activities created are still freely accessible if you know the URLs. The following sites are especially well-done and contain many /r/ activities such as concentration, matching, hangman, and Battleship.
- EdHelper /r/ (www.edhelper.com/phonics/Consonants12.htm) and "er" (www.edhelper.com/phonics/Vowels11.htm) sound pictures, sentences, and worksheets.
/r/ word search - (www.thepotters.com/puzzles/rwords.html)
- Vocabulary quiz - /r/ words from Activities for ESL Students (http://a4esl.org/q/h/al-r-lb.html)
- Vowel + r flash cards and handout set (www.mes-english.com/phonics/rcontrolled.php)
- A story for /r/ (www.speechtx.com/emergent/consonant_r.htm)
- Racer Rabbit Rummy by Amy Strommer (http://edweb.sdsu.edu/courses/edtec670/Cardboard/Card/R/RacerRabbit.html)
- Say It Right (www.sayitright.org/free-stuff.html) makes some r-related materials freely available: AIR Initial Game Board, AIR Initial Game Board Directions, /r/ Progress Chart, and /r/ Achievement Certificate
- Although not specifically created to address /r/ problems, Activities/Games/Ideas for Articulation Therapy (www.angelfire.com/nm2/speechtherapyideas/articgames.html) contains creative therapy ideas for any sound error.
Judith Kuster is in the department of speech, hearing, and rehabilitation services at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. All of Kuster's Internet columns are on ASHA's Web site in HTML format with active links (www.asha.org/about/publications/leader-online/archives/news.htm), although URLs change and there is no guarantee that links from previous articles are still functional.
Kuster, JM, Freely-Available Online Educational Video Resources, ASHA Leader, September 26. 2006, p. 32-33.