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.
Q: My male client is five years of age. He has developmental artic errors and slurred speech. He also add a schwa at the ends of words: “Baby” is “baby-uh” and “Sand” is “Sand-uh.” What would account for this and how would you address this kind of speech sound error?
Developmental errors are normal in a five year old but slurred speech is not. Something is going on. This sounds like mild dysarthria.
I see the addition of the schwa at the end of words as a part of normal development. Toddlers always add a schwa to the end of words to make one-syllable CVC words into easier-to-pronounce two-syllable CV-CV words. Examples: “Dad” changes to “dada”; “Mom” changes to “mama”; and “Dog” changes to “Do-guh.”
The CV is the simplest syllable in terms of motor control. It is the canonical syllable, meaning that it is the most fundamental. The CVC is more difficult. Your client may still be adding the schwa to words because phonologically and motorically he is still operating at that level.
I have seen this many times. I usually play with the words both ways. We over-practice the incorrect production to help him hear it, and then we learn the new way, and then we play back-and-forth between the two.