3 tips for eliciting the /r/ sound

15 Apr 2017

BY: trini

Blogs / Education / Language / School / Speech Therapy / Therapists / Uncategorized

Aloha from everyone here at Speech Solutions Hawaii!

We know the /r/ sound is any SLP’s dreaded goal in therapy!  It’s hard to elicit and not to mention it isn’t a visual sound. But we are here to tell you that targeting the /r/ does not have to be a headache and can actually be very fun to teach!


Here are some tips that we have found work for us:


 Let’s talk about lip placement: We see a lot of tips on how to place your lips for the /r/ sound that consists of pulling them back and making a big “smile”. We have found that the tongue will actually flatten in this situation. So here’s what works for us! Have your kiddo place their lips in a “box shape”. You can facilitate this by telling them to make the “sh” sound and observing their lip placement.


 Teeth placement: When the kiddo’s are focusing on making a “box shape” have them be sure to align their teeth both vertically and horizontally. The big trick here is that you do not want the teeth to touch! You can facilitate this by using a tongue depressor and placing it on its side between the teeth. There should be a gap large enough to get a view of what their tongue is doing but not large enough that they lose the “box shape”.


 Tongue placement: We have found the retroflexed /r/ to be the most successful; however, some kiddos are more successful with the “bunched” /r/. The differences are tongue tip up or tongue tip down. It is important when screening for the /r/ sound to monitor what they naturally do but also give them the option to try both. I have began therapy with a kiddo who naturally made the “bunched” /r/ and a few weeks later realized they had more success with the “retroflexed” /r/. If you are working on the “retroflexed” /r/ have them roll the tongue tip back but not touching the roof the mouth and flatten the sides of the tongue on the teeth. If you are working on the “bunch” /r/ have they make a mountain shape with their tongue having the big part of the hump graze the roof of the mouth.

Some general tips:

– Have the kiddos use their hand to make the mountain or the retroflexed shape

– Use a mirror for a visual aid

– Ask them to tell you what their teeth, lips, and tongue should be doing to correctly make the sound (this helps with awareness)

 -Ask the kiddos to self- monitor after each production (“Do you think you said that /r/ correctly?”)

– Remember the tongue is a muscle and it should be reminded to be squeezed tight like you do when you flex your arm muscle (be sure the lips do not round when focusing on this)

– The jaw should be stable during production

– The back of the tongue should remain in a hump like when producing the /k/

/r/ CV sequences to start with:

– /er/

– /ar/

– /or/

– prevocalic /r/

If you have any questions regarding how to facilitate this in your therapy feel free to contact us!