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Teaching Retroflex R

I have so so many R kids on my caseload right now. Which sometimes makes my head feel like jelly and sometimes I secretly enjoy. (keep that between us- I don’t want our schedulers to send me every R kid)

 

For my sanity, I began to develop a systematic approach to teaching the R. Before you read any further, let me clarify that I am specifically discussing retroflex R in this post. If you are unsure of the types of R (bunched vs. retrofelx), you can check out THIS helpful video.

As a part of my quest to conquer the R, I began to develop various visuals and handouts to help my patients, their parents (and me) along the way. I’ve compiled some of these resources in my handy dandy R packet. You will see a few previews from this packet, as well as a few helpful youtube videos, in this post.

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PHASE 1: Make sure your kiddo can HEAR and SEE the difference between a correct and incorrect retroflex R. If a child can’t discriminate auditorily or visually, there is really no point in going further. This step is a must! Many kids will fly right through this.

Phase 2: Teach AR in 3 steps: tongue flat (“ahhh”), curl tongue slowly, close jaw a little bit. To help kids grasp this, go nice and slow, give them lots of modeling, perhaps even bust out the ol’ mirror and flashlight. I also like to use my hands as a cue (either by counting or mimicking what movement my tongue is making). I’ve demonstrated this in yet another video– yay!

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Phase 3: Shape AR into ER. First we produce AR using our 3-steps, then we FREEZE on the 3rd step and say ER immediately after. Continue practicing in this progression until the child is comfortable enough to produce ER without an “AR warm-up”. You can check out this helpful video for further explanation. I find once we perfect our AR, the rest typically comes more easily. I want slow, careful, intentional movements. If a kiddo misses a step, I want them to know exactly which one was in error. When children become “their own therapist”, they are better off!

Phase 4: Use ER as our springboard for ALL THE REST! You heard me. If a kiddo can consistently and independently produce ER, then we are well on our way to saying the remaining vocalic R’s (ear, air, ire, or), initial R, and even R blends.The slide show below gives a little glimpse into what I’m talking about here. The general concept is the “er” sound we have been teaching now simple represents R in the remaining forms. For example, each vocalic R turns into a little equation. OH + ER = OR and so on. Start practicing this segmented and slow so the vowel doesn’t distort the lovely retroflex R we have achieved. Smooth it out over time. Same goes for initial R (red becomes “errrrrred”) and try becomes (“terrrrrry”). We can speed things up once the articulators are consistent.

 

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That about sums it up!

Keep in mind every kid is different. This method is simply something I have had success with. Feel free to take and leave whatever you find useful to your individual students or patients.

 

YOU’VE GOT THIS!

-Lindsey

 

P.S. If you are looking for additional R materials, check out this R homework packet! It contains materials practicing every variation of R at the word, phrase, sentence, paragraph reading, and conversation levels of the speech hierarchy!

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