Help for the speech impediment R: Sound: When Should Parents Get More Help?

Help for the “R: Sound: When Should Parents Get More Help?


Is your child saying Wabbit instead of Rabbit or Maw instead of More? If your child’s language contains these and other mispronunciations of the R sound or a “speech impediment r” issue, we are sure that you have experienced some difficulty in trying to correct it.


The R sound is one the most common sounds in English! Surprising!  And it is also one of the final sounds that you children master, frequently not maturing until they are 6 or 7 years old.


Often, one of the reasons a speech impediment R issue continues in a child’s speech is because of this. Because the sound develops later, one typical misunderstanding is to do nothing: Parents often think: “It will just take care of itself.” In many circumstances, it may resolve on its own, but sometimes kids and parents need some extra help.


If a child does not get help in a timely manner, incorrect R pronunciation might have a cascading effect. Children may become more self-conscious of their speech, their spelling may be harmed (see all the second grade spelling lists with r-controlled vowels? ), and they may be more vulnerable to teasing.


There is a scientific and medical term for the phenomenon of mispronunciation of the R sound. It is called Rhotacism, which refers to the inability or difficulty in pronouncing the /r/ sound.


So how should parents know when it’s time to get the help of a speech therapist? In general, you can review these questions to help guide your decision about getting help for a speech impediment R issue:


  1. Is your child frustrated when they try to communicate?
  2. Is their speech hard to understand?
  3. Is your child being teased?
  4. Is your child older than the suggested age at which articulation problems should start to fade? (The /r/ sound should be mastered by the age of seven)


According to studies, 7.5 percent of school-aged kids have articulation problems, with the R sound proving particularly challenging. Because this sound occurs before and after vowel sounds, children would need to learn various combinations of the R sound rather than just the sound alone. The vowel that is next to an R has an impact on how sounds and how it is produced.


Here are some examples:

  • AR as in far
  • AIR as in hair
  • EAR as in deer
  • ER as in mother
  • IRE as in fire
  • OR as in more
  • RL as in curl
  • Prevocalic R as in race


What Should Parents Do for Speech Impediment R Issues?


The initial step should be an articulation evaluation by a professional speech-language pathologist (SLP). You should anticipate a speech therapist to work with you on therapy alternatives once you’ve been diagnosed. Weekly visits with homework and practice directions may be one of these choices.


An SLP will Use Visual Cues:


Giving your child visual cues might also help them learn how to pronounce the /r/ sound correctly. They’ll have to adjust the way they move their mouth to pronounce this sound. This is obviously easier said than done.

Using your arm to demonstrate proper tongue movement is one approach that a therapist can show you how to teach your child: Extend your arm in front of you, then bring it up and in toward your body. Explain to your child that they should make the same action with their tongue when trying to pronounce the /r/ sound.

R Therapy Should Be Fun!


You’ll need to find ways to make these speech therapy activities interesting for your child if you want them to continue with them long enough to see benefits.


Fortunately, learning the R sound is a lot of fun. You can practice getting rid of a speech impediment R issue by:

  • Have your child act as if they are an animal. They can practice growling like a bear or roaring like a lion in a fun and enjoyable method to improve their /r/ noises.
  • You can even have kids dress up like pirates and practice their “argh” sound while wearing an eye patch.


The general prognosis is very favorable with early intervention and treatment in the early years for a speech impediment r issue. If parents see that the sound is not produced correctly by around age 6 or 7, it may be time to get help from a speech therapist.


Therapy Works Together – Online Speech Therapy for Children and Adults


We care about every child and adult achieving their speech, language and communication goals. You can start speech therapy online now with a certified speech language therapist. We’ll discuss your personal needs, develop an individualized treatment plan, and schedule affordable online therapy sessions online at your convenience.

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