When “Ate” sounds like “Hate”

By Pam Marshalla

Q: When my 4-year-old client says a word that begins with a vowel, he adds /h/ before it –– “Ate” sounds like “Hate.” What are your thoughts?

Let me answer this according to four different scenarios ––

1.  Client generally uses no frication at all:  If the client was not yet using any fricatives or affricates, and the extra appearances of H were just a fluke, then I would stimulate all eleven sounds for a while till the whole set starts coming in –– Th, Th, F, V, S, Z, Sh, Zh, Ch, J, H.  Then I would worry about that extra H.

2.  Client has started acquiring frication and is overgeneralizing:  I may not bother to address this problem just now because the client simply may be in the process of acquiring frication, he is overgeneralizing, and he is doing so with H.  He is putting H where it doesn’t belong, and that’s okay for now because he needs to.  If this were the case, I would work on a lot of words that started with H so he could over-work it for a while –– He, him, his, hers, hot, hold, happy, hat, hit, home, home run, Harry, Harvey, hippo, etc.

3.  Client has all his fricatives and affricates:  If all the fricatives and affricates were in, or mostly in, and this truly was a simple problem of adding an extra H, I would use minimal pair words to teach him to hear, see, feel, and comprehend the difference between words with and without initial H.  For example, I might use ––

Heat –– Eat
Hit –– It
Hate ­­–– Ate
Head –– Ed
Hat –– At
Hoops –– Oops
Hone –– Own
Haul –– All
Hum –– Um
Who –– Oo

4. This is true prevocalic devoicing:  If the client truly could not turn his voice on as he initiated words, and he had to start a vowel with his voice off, I would teach him more about his voice.  I would teach him to turn it off and on at will by combining amplification and palpation of the neck (feel the vibration in the vocal folds with the hands).  Then I would teach him that he has to turn it on when he says a vowel.  I would have him practice whispered vowels and voiced vowels, back and forth, so he can hear and feel the differences.  Then I might go on to whispered words versus voiced words.

0 thoughts on “When “Ate” sounds like “Hate””

  1. Thank you Pam. I need to look more often-thanks for answering all these questions. One of your ideas for what to do when a child adds h to vowels I was going to try on my own so that made me feel better. I enjoyed hearing you at a workshop and being able to continue to learn from you here.

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