My Favorite Way to Finally Elicit the R Sound in Speech Therapy When Your Student Doesn’t Seem Stimulable

There is no “one right way” to treat the R sound in speech therapy. If there were, I could stop running this website. But we all have favorite therapy tools, right? It doesn’t make one tool “right” and another “wrong.” Sort of like your favorite pair of shoes- you have a lot of great shoes but one pair is your favorite because they’re comfortable and they work with most outfits. You probably reach for those shoes first every time, and that’s okay.

I’m about to share with you my “favorite shoes”… aka favorite way to elicit the R sound.

I have had a ton of success with this trick, so much so that I based my best-seller Teaching R off of it. I like to start with retroflex “AR” and to break it down into a 3 part motor plan. You read that right! I like to start with vocalic R. Not only that, I usually teach retroflex. Surprise! I know that’s far outside of the comfort zone for many SLPs, but try this…


Step 1- say “ahh”

Step 2- curl your tongue back about halfway in your mouth

Step 3- close your jaw a little bit

I have had a BUNCH of success with this trick! You can read more about what next steps I take once the student has AR in this blog post.

Give it a try, but if you’re looking for more support with the R sound, I have a bunch of resources for you:

Blog: Choosing Bunched vs Retroflex R

Freebie: R Elicitation

Resource: Video Model Articulation Boom Cards

Emails: Become a VIP and get access to my freebie library


Always remember, it’s wise to try a variety of tools and see what works best for your particular student. Starting with a student’s strengths, or what they’re most stimulable for, is always a good move. But it’s okay to reach for your favorite “shoes” first. If they work, then you’re one step closer to that glorious R in all contexts!


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Hi! I'm Lindsey!

I’m a pediatric SLP who specializes in the R sound. Fun fact- I actually used to dread the R but after dedicating a lot (like… a lot a lot) of time to researching and troubleshooting… I now love it! So much, in fact, that I currently spend my days treating “R kids” via my private practice and creating R resources and continuing education for SLPs via Speechy Things. I’m so glad you found me! Let’s “Rock the R” together!

"Something I looked forward to every week."

“I’m so grateful I was able to work with Lindsey. As a teenager, it has been a blessing to find an SLP as encouraging and approachable as Lindsey. Her method of self reflection has really helped me realize the flaws in my speech, and through that I was able to improve. Every session was met with a smile, and Lindsey’s supportive practices made therapy not only fun, but something I looked forward to every week. Thanks to Lindsey I was able to undo fifteen years of poor R’s, and replace it with strong, understandable speech.”

- Anna, 15-year-old client

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