Speech & Occupational Therapy of North Texas Can Address Parent Concerns About the “R” Sound
The Complexity of the /r/ Phoneme
The /r/ phoneme is considered one of the most, if not the most, difficult phoneme to remediate. The complexity of the /r/ phoneme is partly due to the fact that it can act as both a consonant (as /r/ in “red”) and a vowel (as /or/ in “for”). It is also found in consonantal blends (as /tr/ in “tree”) and its vowel-like qualities can change depending on the phonemes surrounding it. In addition to its complex nature, there can be a wide variety of causes associated with /r/ phoneme errors, such as lip rounding, flattened “low” tongue position, lack of tension in the tongue, jaw instability, oral-motor challenges, and incorrect tongue placement.
When Should I Be Concerned?
It is very important to remember that the age in which speech sounds develop varies greatly from one child to the next, even within the same family. Also, girls tend to develop speech at an earlier age than boys. While research has found a wide age range for acquisition of the /r/ phoneme in typically-developing children (anywhere from 3 years to 8 years), most speech therapists do not recommend working on the /r/ until age 7 or 8 years. This allows time for the sound to come in naturally, if it is going to, and also allows for the child to mature to an age he or she can understand the difficult concept of tongue placement and sound production needed for remediation of this phoneme.
Who Can Help?
Due to the complexity of speech development and particularly the /r/ phoneme, your child’s speech should be assessed by a licensed speech-language pathologist trained in the area of articulation if you think he or she is having difficulty with this particular sound. To learn more about speech therapy Murphy families can contact our East Plano clinic at 972-424-0148. For families in Richardson, Texas speech therapy is also close to home at our southeast Plano clinic. A speech pathologist, experienced with evaluating articulation can talk with you about your concerns and schedule an assessment if that is the best course of action for your child. There are a variety of facilitation techniques that speech pathologists use to remediate the /r/ phoneme. Identifying the exact nature of the problem with the /r/ production allows the therapist to choose the appropriate remediation strategy for your child. If therapy is recommended, the speech therapist will give you specific exercises and strategies you can do at home to support your child’s treatment. Keep in mind that the /r/ phoneme is typically very difficult to correct and will take time, patience, and your support.
Many insurance plans cover articulation therapy. Speech & Occupational Therapy of North Texas is a network provider for many plans and we can assist families with coverage determinations.
Jennifer Sananikone, M.A. CCC-SLP, who works in the East Plano location, treats children birth to teens with speech, language and feeding challenges.