Sloppy Speech

By Pam Marshalla

Q: My preschool client can produce all the consonants and vowels, but his speech is somewhat unintelligible at times. I seem to be working on just general enunciation. Is this correct? Should I be doing more?

Yes! You are on the right track. Teach him to enunciate. This is the essence of therapy at this level, and it applies to all clients of all ages and ability levels. This is part of what I call “Lessons from the Elocutionists”. Teach your client to:

  • Speak up and speak out.
  • Enunciate each syllable.
  • Make each vowel round and resonant.
  • Make each consonant clean and crisp.
  • Use intonation appropriately.
  • Pronounce each word correctly.

As a profession we seem to have thrown out the things the elocutionists of the 18th and 19th centuries taught about speech. But this is the essence of all therapy, especially for those clients with dysarthria, and those who get mumbly, slurry, sloppy…

I will have a chapter devoted to the elocutionists and their lessons in my next book to be called The Marshalla Guide to 21st Century Articulation Therapy. It is planned for publication in 2012.

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