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.
By Pam Marshalla
Q: I read your explanation on how to teach a child to say R without nasality. I used a tube to help him as you suggested, and he now understands the difference between oral and nasal sounds. However, he still cannot produce the vocalic /r/ without it sounding hypernasal. I have tried everything and I was wondering if you have any suggestions!
You have to tell him NOT to say R. Instead, have him say his nice oral vowel with the tube, prolong it, and then have him move into R position while keeping the sound oral.
I am not sure if your client can get his tongue in the right position for R. If he can, then it will sound correct if he keeps it oral. If he cannot get his tongue into a correct position, he will have to learn that too. But it sounds like he can already do a pre-vocalic R, and therefore I am sure he can get his tongue into position for the postvocalic one.
The key for this type of client is to teach him that we are NOT saying R, because as soon as he thinks he is trying to say R, he will lower his velum because that is his motor memory for R. You have to break his motor memory for R away from his linguistic memory for R. We do this by telling the client NOT to say R, but to follow our directions.
By the way, this is the reason I speak strongly against the literacy model for articulation therapy. Our clients have a memory for each phoneme they produce, and that memory is both motoric and linguistic. We have to break the motor memory away from the language memory in order to create a new movement pattern. Then we put the new movement pattern back together with the language concept of the phoneme.