When R is Only Good in Certain Words

By Pam Marshalla

Q: I went to your class on R therapy, but I still do not understand how to help a client who can say R in some words but not others. For example, my client can say “board” but not “bird.” Help!

This is what I do with kids who have Rs in some words and not others––

I see if I can manipulate a word they can say in such a way that the “er” is teased away from the rest of the word.

Your client can say “board” but not “bird.” That means that the O in the first word is helping him get to the R.  I would try to manipulate “board” to get to the “er.”  For example, this is how I might go from “Board” to “Bird”––

  • Add a schwa after the word so he says “Boarduh.”
  • Now split the word into two distinct syllables so he says “Boar—duh.”
  • Now make the pause between the first and second syllable longer so that “Boar” is a separate and distinct unit.
  • Then take “Boar” and over-emphasize the O.  Exaggerate the vowel by making it longer–– Booooooar.
  • Then split this into two syllables–– Booooo—-Er.
  • Now you have “Er” separated and can use it to attach to other things.
  • To put it into “bird,” use the schwa liberally and split this word into three parts–– “Buh” + “Er” + “Duh.”
  • Teach the client to blend these separate parts together back into a single word by prolonging the vowels.
  • Finally, take out any extra sounds that inevitably will occur as he tries to blend the sequence of sounds.

This is articulation therapy at its finest!


0 thoughts on “When R is Only Good in Certain Words”

  1. I’ve found the very most helpful technique in /r/ therapy to be COLORED BLOCKS. Never underestimate the use of COLORED BLOCKS. In the technique above, , use a COLORED BLOCK for each sound. Then, when the client SEES the production while making the sounds AND Pointing to each colored block, you can CHANGE the COLORED BLOCK to represent the new sound(s). REMEMBER: o-r is TWO different colored blocks; i-r =change to a different color for the i.

  2. I separate the syllable with the /r/ controlled vowel from the rest of the word, then use co-articulation to get the sound production. In this case, the word is bird, the syllable is bir, the co-articulation would be bir-rock. I explain to my student that we “borrow” the /r/ from “rock” to get it to attach to the syllable “bir”. Eventually, we are able to drop the “rock” portion, and tag on the rest of the word to achieve “bird”. This has been a very effective approach for me.

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