When should I be worried about my child’s /r/ sound?
There are over 20 variations of the English /r/ sound (would you ever have guessed that??). The English /r/ sounds begins to emerge in a child’s speech sound repertoire around age 3, but can take up to age 6 or 7 to develop fully. A child who is highly unintelligible as a result of their difficulty producing speech sounds should see a Speech-Language Pathologist as soon as possible. If a child is 5-6 years old, and showing no progress towards correct /r/ sounds, a visit to a Speech-Language Pathologist may be warranted.
My favorite article on evaluating and treating the /r/ sound(s) can be found here: http://www.sayitright.org/article.html. The “Say It Right” program is a fan favorite in my Speech Therapy “bag of tricks,” and often helps parents to understand just how difficult the /r/ sound is, in comparison to other speech sounds.
It is incredibly important for your Speech-Language Therapist to evaluate all variations of /r/ when assessing your child’s Speech skills. Keep in mind a few tips to ask your Speech Therapist about:
- Only variations of /r/ that are incorrectly articulated should be addressed in Speech Therapy.
- Start with the most “visual” /r/ variants and work towards the least “visual” ones. This helps your child to use their other sensory systems to see, mimic and master /r/ sounds systematically.
- Work on only 1 or 2 /r/ variants until your child has mastered that variant at 80% accuracy.
- Practice at home!! Ask your Speech Therapist to provide at home practice materials, such a word lists or tips. This will allow your child to generalize their new skills from the Speech Therapy room to a more natural environment, such as a conversation at home!