Struggling with R — Training Auditory Self-Monitoring

By Pam Marshalla

young kindergarten girlQ: I struggle with a student who can say the R sound correctly in the prevocalic position but not unless I correct her. I say, “What’s a wabbit?” and then she corrects herself. She has been in therapy for a few months. Should I film her? And what else can I do to help her?

If the R sounds correct, you are doing fine! She is on her way. Filming is always a great idea to help clue kids in to what they are doing. A mirror is almost equally affective and often easier to manage on the fly. But adding technology to therapy attracts most kids these days.

She may linger many months on prevocalic R. That is not unusual. Just keep working on words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs with what she can do.

To help her begin to take control and not rely on you, make your feedback more direct. Instead of asking her, “What is a wabbit?” (which is a great method, by the way) tell her exactly what she needs to do. Say, “Now, I want you to say the next word, and afterwards I am going to ask you how you did on it. I will say, ‘How did you do on that one?’ and you will say, “Good” or “No good.’” Then reward her for making the right decision.

In other words you are putting a step between her saying it and you rewarding her. You stop rewarding her for saying the sound correctly and you start rewarding her for listening to herself to determine how well she did.

In other words, instead of you judging her utterance, she begins to judge them, and you will be training her ear to listen to herself. You also will teach her how to take responsibility for her utterances.

Some research in the 1960’s showed that kids with R problems are not good at discriminating their own good and poor utterances, so you have to teach them how to do it. This type of activity will help her gain this skill.

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