This advice-column-style blog for SLPs was authored by Pam Marshalla from 2006 to 2015, the archives of which can be explored here. Use the extensive keywords list found in the right-hand column (on mobile: at the bottom of the page) to browse specific topics, or use the search feature to locate specific words or phrases throughout the entire blog.
Before /r/ Can Emerge – Early /r/ Therapy
By Pam Marshalla
Q: I have a severely apraxic sixth grader who omits /r/ in blends. Is it appropriate to teach her to use /w/ instead in order to increase intelligibility? For example, can I teach her to say “bwick” for “brick”?
I always take the liberty of teaching w/r in these cases. The /w/ holds the place until the client is ready for /r/. This is exactly what many typically developing children do in the younger years.
I also add a schwa (ə) if necessary. So I teach “brown” as “buh-wown.” This is especially helpful if the client has difficulty sequencing phonemes. It breaks the CC down into CV-CV, a simpler motor pattern.
Then, when the client learns /r/, we might continue using the schwa and pronounce the word as “buh-rown” for a while before going on to “brown.”
These steps allow you to train for /r/ blends in small steps that the client can handle.