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Difficulties with the R sound

I’ve had many parents ask me when a child should be able to pronounce the R sound. There is no definitive answer, but most therapists will say that approximately 90% of children have mastered the sound by age 6. I will typically start working with a child who is 7 years old or older if they still have difficulty with R.

Why wait until 7 or older?
Many children under age 7 are still developing their R sound and will learn it on their own without any help from a Speech Pathologist. After age 7, however, the chances of learning the sound independently start to decrease.

How can I help my child with his/her R sound?
That’s a pretty tricky question. There are actually 21 different R sounds!See if your child can prounounce the sound in any words at all. Some to try include “car, crayon, radio, rag, carry, earth”. If your child typically substitutes a W for R sound “wadio”, then see if he/she can tell the difference. Play a “W or R” game and have them guess which word you are saying:
wed/red
wife/rife
woah/row
why/rye
when/wren

Some children respond well to simple prompts like, “use your tongue, not your lips”. Or simply, “that word starts with R”.

Practice being a pirate or a bear “arrrrrrrrr!” or “grrrrrrr” and see if your child can make a good /r/ sound in any circumstance.

If after trying some of these techniques and/or your child is 6 and a half or older, contact your school’s Speech Pathologist for a free evaluation.

Hope that helps!

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3 Comments

  1. Yep, that does help 🙂 My now 6 year old still leaves that sound out. Mostly from laziness 😛

    But I have to brag, Little Miss is making big strides in her ST, even though adding the s sound to the front of her words is still difficult.

  2. That’s good to know, my daughter says W for R and Y for L, and I was wondering how long that was okay. She’s only 2 though.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, hope to see you back!

  3. Hey CC, thanks for dropping by my blog… I’ll update it again someday!

    21 /r/ sounds? wow! I wouldn’t have guessed that many!
    I speak Australian English- so ‘car’ and ‘earth’ don’t have an /r/ here!

    Where I work, we use these norms: http://www.speech-language-therapy.com/acquisition.html
    and treat /r/ in 5 year olds. But I also make bear/lion/pirate sounds!

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