R Speech Therapy
R Speech therapy is quite common since R is one of the harder sounds to say for many good reasons.
It's abstract, multi-step, and hidden in the mouth and production varies due to phonetic placement! It's a lot! Despite all this, children should be able to say R correctly by 6 years of age.
Believe it or not, I actually ENJOY working on R. I'm going to break it down here and provide updates on new materials.
How To Say R
First, let's review HOW to say R.
I'm going to review how to say prevocalic R/ER here. I USUALLY teach this sound first before moving on to the other R sounds (i.e., or, ar, ear, r-blends, etc...)
There are 2 different ways to say R:
- Retroflexed R
- Bunched R
Both ways of saying R are quite similar. They share the following characteristics:
- Teeth/Jaw - The jaw is up and the teeth have a slight gap. Make sure the jaw isn't dropped.
- Lips - Lips are in a neutral position/not rounded. Rounding can be common for children who say "wabbit" or "rabbit."
- Side of Tongue - The sides of tongue/lateral margins are touching/anchored to the top, back molars.
- Tension - The tongue is tense.
The position of the tongue and tongue tip will vary depending on if it is a retroflex R or bunched R.
- Mid-tongue - The mid tongue is bunched up in the center of the mouth
- Tongue tip - The tongue tip is pointing down or straight, plays little to no part in saying bunched R.
- Mid Tongue: Plays a smaller part. Still somewhat tense but not bunched up.
- Tongue Tip - Tongue tip curls backward and points up just past the alveolar ridge.
Which R Should I Use during treatment?
This will depend on the student! Try both out and see which one the child has more success with!
Anecdotally, most of my kids use the bunched R but retroflexed R can be easier to teach initially.
R Speech Therapy Elicitation Tips
Below are some of my favorite R speech therapy elicitation techniques. Pick and choose which ones your students need!
- Review anatomy using image above, handouts from Speech Therapy Talk Membership, and/or a 3D mouth teaching tool. I actually do all three for everyone student.
- Have the child feel the sides of their tongue and top molars. You can use a lollipop or tongue depressor for this to teaching anchoring lateral margins on tongue to top molars.
- Have the child practice anchoring sides of tongue to top molars by saying "eeeee."
- Say a /k/ with "force" to feel how to move the tongue to back of mouth with tension. Add R for KR blend when able.
- For retroflex /r/, curl tongue back while phonating until is sounds like an /r/
- Growl like a "bear" and say "grrrr" to feel tongue retraction, bunched position, and tension
- Use a mirror while saying /r/ so the child has visual feedback on jaw grading and lip positioning.
R Speech Therapy Materials
I worked HARD on making more R speech therapy materials. Check them out here and let me know what you think!