I’m so excited to introduce you to Dawn Moore, a clinician in North Carolina who freely admits to loving /r/ therapy! I heard her speak this past September at the NC Speech-Language-Hearing Association convention and asked if she would summarize some of her techniques for you.
Are you one of the many clinicians out there struggling with /r/? I know I was when I first started out in the field 13 years ago. I have to admit though, I was a little smug back then. I thought, “I have eight letters after my name and two degrees, I got this!” Boy, was I wrong! I learned that I did not know the first thing about how to correct /r/. For the most part, I could not even distinguish between correct and incorrect productions. I was in trouble! After I calmed down, I decided I needed a structured approach. I had excellent supervisors in graduate school and quickly implemented their therapy styles into my therapy. Looking back through my clinical notes, I decided to start with initial /r/ and nonsense words. After working at this level for a few weeks with one of my kids (Ben), my discrimination skills started to build. I was getting much better at hearing the difference between the /r/ and /w/ in Ben’s productions and this spurred me on to the other levels of initial /r/ in words, phrases, and sentences. Then, the true challenge was upon me: Vocalic /r/.
By far, vocalic /r/ is the most feared sound we treat. I know I was terrified of it at the beginning. However, I remembered I had worked a little with co-articulation in graduate school. My supervisor told me to pick an initial /r/ word to attach to the end of each final /r/ word and I chose the word ‘red’. At the time, I really didn’t understand the purpose and had no idea how much I would use this technique in the future or that I would build a program around it. However, after seeing Ben’s success with co-articulation, I knew I was on to something.
I promise that therapy for /r/ does not have to be horrible and it is not impossible. The two main keys to my program are drill and feedback. The drill is obvious. Feedback, on the other hand, is more confusing. I have witnessed many clinicians telling a child the sound produced was incorrect, but then said nothing else to make the child change their production. If someone told you that you were doing something wrong, but did not tell you how to fix it, how would you know what to do? Below you will see an overview of this program. You can find the program itself and more information on my website: www.expressionsspeech.com
Overview of what you need
(and need to do or not do)
to correct /r/
1) Mirror—do not do therapy without!
2) Flashlight—ditto above
3) NEVER focus on /er/
4) NEVER drill any /r/ in isolation-Use words!
5) Nonsense drill sheets
6) Word/phrase/sentences level drill sheets (Webber’s book is great here,
but others will work)
7) DRILL, DRILL, DRILL—NO way around drilling this sound!
If you were told your IEP or notes were wrong, but no one told you WHAT to do differently, how would you fix it? I witness that happening over and over again with clinicians trying to correct /r/.
Feedback is the key!
It will take you a little time to get used to discriminating between correct and incorrect productions of final /r/ with and without co-articulation—give yourself that time!
Don’t give up!
Dawn Moore MA, CCC/SLP is the founder of Expressions Speech and Language Center in Burlington, NC. She has worked in the public schools of North Carolina her entire career and started a private practice three years ago in Burlington. She truly enjoys teaching others and is passionate about articulation and phonological therapy. Her website, www.expressionsspeech.com, is loaded with useful therapy materials for the busy clinician.