Ridding Epenthesis

By Pam Marshalla

Ten-Year Old BoyQ: Is epenthesis (adding a schwa to the end of words) a concern in a child who is close to 10 years old? It affects his social interaction. If so, how would you target this?

I always see epenthesis as a normal developmental process, however ten is pretty old to still be using it and, since you said it is interfering with social communication, then it is worth targeting.

If I want to get rid of it I literally spell it out in orthographic symbols to help the client hear it.  I say, “You are saying ‘Cat-uh… Most kids say ‘Cat.’”  Usually I draw a circle around what I call “the Uh-part”.

  • Practice it with the schwa more to help him hear it (negative practice).
  • Practice it with the schwa made longer and louder (more negative practice).
  • Teach him to become aware of it and to grab hold of it with his mind.
  • Then teach him to pause between the word and the schwa: Cat—–Uh.
  • Then teach him to drop the schwa.

9 thoughts on “Ridding Epenthesis”

  1. I have a 5th grade female who does this only when reading aloud, not speaking. Any thoughts on next steps? I (SLP) just got called in from the teachers to observe and make recommendations.

    1. Is the child maybe doing it while reading in order to help with processing text to speech? Maybe starting with chunking (like in fluency therapy) to help space out the words may help. I’m just guessing, as I have not worked with someone with the same productions.

      1. I have a 2nd grader who is also doing this only in reading (not speaking). The schwa is showing up at the end of words, and the teacher noticed that this mostly occurs when the student is unfamiliar with the text. Did you try chunking with your 5th grader? Have you had any success? Thanks for any information!

  2. I have a kindergarten student who is doing this with body coda blending. So for wi-n, she blends as winuh….suggestions on how to correct this?

  3. What about a child who didn’t do this and at age 5 started adding “uh” to the ends of words? Is it more concerning if it develops rather than always had it?

  4. I am a reading interventionist who is working with a 4th grader who who adds -uh to the end of almost every word when reading aloud. I very rarely hear it in his speaking. Any suggestions for interventions to help him? As my district is a fluency based school, this is really hurting his benchmark scores.

    1. I would love more information on this, as well! I am an SLP at a middle school and was just referred to a 5th grader with epenthesis on word endings while reading aloud. It is not present in her speech, nor are any stuttering-like disfluencies. I am not sure I could even qualify this student, since it seems to be a reading fluency issue? Perhaps a processing issue? I am lost. Guidance would be great!

  5. Joining the club; I also have a 5th grade student who adds “uh” to the end of words, both speaking (about 18% of the time) and while reading aloud (He has done this for years though).
    I can’t say I’ve found many articles or guidance on elimination of this, so would love to hear any guidance/tips on getting rid of this phonological process.

  6. Interesting – I too have 2 fifth graders this year that are adding /u/, shwa sound at the end of most words when reading and not in conversation. Any thoughts

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