"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

On-line activities for the /r/ sound

Judith Kuster is in the department of speech, hearing, and rehabilitation services at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Contact her at judith.kuster@mnsu.edu. 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.