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Speech Sound Development:  Later Developing Sounds

Hey there, its Amy King  again! We are going to wrap up our blog series today on speech sound development. The last two blogs focused  on early developing and middle developing speech sounds, and today we are going to finish this series talking about some of the later developing speech sounds and give you some strategies to teach your child. The sounds we are going to focus on today are S, L, R, CH,SH, and TH.  These are some of the later developing speech sounds. Make sure you check out the link below to see the entire speech sound acquisition chart and ages at which they are typically acquired. Alright….lets go!

We are going to start with L.  L is another “tongue lifter” sound.  L is made by lifting the tongue tip to the “alveolar ridge,” or the bump behind your top front teeth. Many kids substitute a W for L. This is acceptable for a while, but there does come a point where a child should be making the L and not a W (i.e. Wuke for Luke or Yewwow for yellow). To make L, you are going to lift your tongue tip up, and then roll and release forward for production of L. As we talked about before, get down at eye level with your child. Show them with your mouth exactly what you want them to do. Let them look in a mirror and see if they can imitate. They may need you to help them explore, see, and touch what and where you want them to go. You can use toothbrushes, popsicle sticks, a clean finger! Remember with any of these sounds, if you feel that your child is physically unable to do a movement, such as lifting their tongue or pulling it back in their mouth, please see your dentist first. They will be able to do an assessment to make sure your child is physically able to use their teeth, tongue, palate to  produce sounds.

Lets move to CH and SH. These two sounds are called sister sounds, because they are almost identical in place and manner of production.  When I work on these sounds with clients, I refer to them as the “kissing or fish sounds” because when you produce these sounds, your lips look like they are ready to give a big old kiss or like a silly fish. I always cue my clients: 1) teeth together (bottom and top teeth together) 2) kissing or fish lip posture and then step 3 varies slightly for SH and CH. For step 3 with SH, you encourage them to blow a long and steady stream of air right out the front of their mouth. I will often put the child’s hand in front of my mouth while I produce SH so they can feel the big “fat” stream of air coming out. For step 3 with CH, the tongue tip actually elevates to that “alveolar ridge” or bump behind your top front teeth and then you “pop or release” a quick burst of short fat air to produce CH. Don’t forget all the “tricks in our bag” we’ve talked about. Have a mirror, a toothbrush, pudding, yogurt, cheerio for a cheerio hold we mentioned in our last blog. If they are having trouble finding spots in their mouth, you have to get in their mouth and help them explore through touch!

Next is TH! A lot of kids for a good while produce an F for voiceless Th (baf for bath, fumb for thumb) and a D for voiced Th (dis for this, dere for there). Again, that’s ok for a while, but at some point they need to be correcting that substitution not only for speech intelligibility, but any lingering sound substitutions can impact sounds for reading and writing in school. For the TH, I tell my clients this is the only time they are ever allowed to stick their tongue out at me J Step 1: tongue out slightly. Step 2: they are going to bite their tongue gently very close to the tongue tip. Step 3: blow a steady stream of air out through the front of the mouth.

Alright, last sound we’re going to go over. It’s the hardest speech sound to make, and the hardest one to correct………………..RRRRRRRRR! You have to do a lot in your mouth to produce an R. There are a couple of different ways to approach an R (tongue tip down OR tongue tip up approach), but I have found that most people produce an R by lifting their tongue tip up, and I have found most success with clients using the tongue tip up approach. So, that is what I’m going to recommend today.  To make an R, the tongue most be tense/tight (like when you make the eeeee sound), it must be pulled back in the mouth (like when you make the K sound), and the tongue tip must elevate up towards the palate. R for sure is a complicated sound.  I first have clients make an E and hold it. This allows them to feel tongue tension. They can feel that when they say E, the outer edges of their tongue are pushing outwardly on their upper middle to back teeth. I then have them transion into a K + E (key) holding the E. This allows them to feel the backward transition of the tongue and tongue tension. Lastly, I have them slowly roll their tongue tip UP and BACK. Tongue tip should aim up and back to touch the soft roof of mouth. So transition looks/sounds like this: KKKKKKKKKKKK…….EEEEEEEE……..RRRRRRR. When tongue tip goes up and back while the first two step are correctly done, you will hear a correct R production!

Okay! We have gone over a lot today and over our first two blogs. If you have reviewed the attached speech sound charts and your child is not producing sounds that they should, and our home recommendations are not showing progress, we have an excellent team of therapists here at Child Language and Developmental Speech to screen, evaluate, and treat your child in the home, school, or clinic. Early intervention provides the most successful outcome for children. Thanks so much for visiting our blog and we’ll see you next time!