By Pam Marshalla

Q: I have a 4th grade student who has trouble saying multi-syllable words in conversations. Do you have any suggestions for working with a student like him who doesn’t have any specific phoneme errors?

Charles Van Riper called these clients “clumsy-mouthed individuals.” In my opinion, this is mild dysarthria. The key to treatment at this level is to teach the client to over-pronounce while he learns to self-monitor. Teach him how to do the following:

  • Speak up
  • Speak out
  • Punch out every syllable
  • Take care not to let syllables drop out
  • Take care not to let phonemes drop out
  • Make full, round, and resonant vowels
  • Make sure not to resort to the schwa
  • Make diphthongs clearly with both parts
  • Take care not to let final C’s drop
  • Take care not to let morphemes drop off the ends of words
  • Make nasal on M, N, and Ng clear and resonant
  • Punch out the rhythm of utterances
  • Use intonation with a little exaggeration
  • Learn how to watch his listeners for signs of incomprehension
  • Use a slower rate to control all this
  • Learn when and why to control better

Also, please have a look at the other Q&A’s about dysarthria on this website.

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