Early “T” Therapy

By Pam Marshalla

4794299907_80b1aafeda_mQ: I am seeing a child who substitutes K for T. He can click his tongue, can touch the alveolar ridge adequately with his tongue, and he understands the tongue placement for T. But he is not able to raise his tongue tip to the alveolar ridge during his attempt to articulate T. He has good phonemic discrimination, too.

The lingua-alveolar consonants emerge when the jaw begins to move up-and-down, not when the tongue moves.

So begin by teaching the client a gross T with the tongue relatively immobile and the jaw moving up-and-down in a big movement pattern.

You didn’t mention other phonemes but if he doesn’t have D, start there instead. D usually comes in during the babbling stage in the CV as the jaw pumps up-and-down, whereas T usually doesn’t come in until words, and it emerges usually in the final position once the jaw begins to stabilize.

Work on basic babbling sequences with Da-da-da using big up-and-down jaw movements. The tongue will bang upwards against the palate/alveolar ridge as the jaw pushes it up and pulls it down. This will be the beginning of D in the CV.

Then go to T in the final position (e.g., “cat,” “light”).

Then go to initial T. I would teach initial T with big jaw movements, and even with the tongue-tip protruding slightly. Once T is emerging in this gross way, you can begin to refine it by stabilizing the jaw and teaching the tongue-tip to move independently.

4 thoughts on “Early “T” Therapy”

  1. I can’t find anything else about backing on this website. I have a grandson who is a true backer and cannot produce /t/ or /d/. He’s three and automatically moves them to /k/ or /g/. He has /s/ and /n/ and I’ve tried using them as in “eats” or “ant” but he isn’t getting it … Does anyone have more information on this?

    1. I also have a son that only uses back sounds. “baby” is “gaby”
      He will not stick out his tongue either.
      Came to this website for answers.
      In Early Intervention and waiting for primary children’s to call back.

  2. I am struggling also with a child who backs everything…however, his /k/ and /g/ is often laterally distorted as well. I have been in this field for a long time, but any tricks I have learned are not working…any help/suggestions are GREATLY appreciated!

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