The Process of Articulation Therapy


For those of you that have read some of my previous posts on how to teach specific sounds you may have noticed a pattern. That’s because when teaching kids how to say sounds there IS a general pattern I follow even though each specific sound changes. I wanted to outline this for you because if you understand this pattern, it will make teaching the sounds so much easier!

Before I get into the details of this process, please understand that there are many other factors that affect speech intelligibility such as hearing loss, apraxia, oral motor deficits, sensory issues, and phonological processes to name a few, but I will not be addressing any of these here. This post is intended to simply explain the basic structure of articulation therapy and how you can work with your child on their sounds.

So, let’s get started! The very first thing I want to know as a Speech Language Pathologist is what sounds does the child have difficulty with. As a parent you could probably list them without a problem. If you do need some help you may want to see a speech pathologist and they can help you identify them. They can do an articulation assessment that will tell you exactly what sounds your child is struggling with, what position of the word (begining, middle or ending) they are struggling with it in, and what sound if any they are substituting it with. They can also tell how your child compares to other children their age. So, after I have outlined the problem sounds I like to check for stimulability.

Stimulability

What is stimulability? A child is “stimulable” if he or she can say the sound in direct imitation of the therapist or parent. If the child is stimulable or can say the sound then you have cause to celebrate. That means your job is going to be so much easier! If the child cannot say the sound, you’ll have some work to do. You’ll need to teach them how to say the sound. This is called sound elicitation.

Sound Elicitation

Sound elicitation is the process you go through to teach the child how to say the targeted sound. For example, if a child cannot say the /th/ sound in imitation you break down the process for them. You might say, “Put your tongue between your teeth then blow.” After the sound is learned, meaning they can say it accurately in imitation of you then practice the sound in isolation.

Sound in Isolation

Practicing a sound in isolation means saying the sound all by itself without adding a vowel. For example, if you are practicing the /t/ sound you would practice saying /t/, /t/, /t/ multiple times in a row. The more accurate repetitions you are able to get your child to produce the better. I am satisfied with 10 accurate repetitions in a row. When you are satisfied they can say the sound in isolation you are ready to move on to syllables.

Sound in Syllables

Practicing a sound in syllables simply means adding each vowel after the target sound, before the target sound, and before and after the target sound, being sure to practice the long and short form of each vowel.

For example if the target sound was /s/ “after the target sound” would be “sa, se, si, so, and su.” This is called “initial syllable production”, meaning the target sound is in the beginning of the syllable.

If the target sound was /p/ then placing the vowel “before the target sound” would be “ap, ep, ip, op, and up. This is called “final syllable production”, meaning the target sound is at the end of the syllable.

If the target sound is /k/ then placing the vowel “before and after the target sound” would be, “ako, eki, ika, oku, and ukee. Of course there are multiple variations. This is called “medial syllable production”, meaning the target sound is in the middle of the syllable.

When I introduce the syllables I like to see in which position the child has the easiest time producing the target sound. If the child is the most successful with the target sound in the initial (beginning) position of syllables I will begin work on the target sound in initial position of words. If the child has more success with the target sound in the final position of syllables then I would begin working on the target sound in the final position of words.

So the plan here is to work on the position they are having the most success with but not a position that is currently not a problem for them. For example, a child may exhibit a typical error pattern, or phonological process of final consonant deletion. This means they leave off the ending of most of their words. While the child can say the /m/ sound in the initial position of words with no difficulty, they never say it at the end of words. In this instance it is obvious that the sound in the initial position would not be a problem for them and would not be the place to start. Instead you would most likely begin work on the final position of the word.

Once your child can say the sound in syllables you can move the sound into words.

Sound in Words

At this point you have decided which position of the word you want to target and will begin practicing word cards in the initial, medial or final position of the word. I am satisfied with 80% accurate independent productions before I move on to the next step, which is using the word in a sentence. Meaning, I don’t count it as correct if the child says it in imitation of me. If I have to model a word for a child I will often put that word card back in the rotation for them to say again. After all the cards have been said we go back and practice the word cards that were in error.

There are so many ways to make practicing word cards fun. I sometimes make a snake and put a little incentive such as an m&m or a fish cracker every 3-5 cards. I have also fed the cards to puppets after they have been said, hid them around the room and gone on a hunt to look for them, as well as played memory, go fish and other fun card games. Be creative this makes it more fun for both of you!

Sound in Sentences

My favorite way to practice sounds in sentences is with a “rotating sentence”. In a rotating sentence only the word card changes. For example, your sentence might read, “Put ________ in pink purse.” Then you rotate all your practice cards through the sentence. This is an especially great way to practice sentences for young children who can’t read yet. They are able to memorize the sentence, or use visual cues to help them read it aloud. You are also able to maximize the production of your target sound when you use a sentence with two or three target words in it. You may find my sentences for the different sounds on the worksheets page.

With older children, I have them write their own sentences using their target words. When a child has articulated 16/20 or 80% correct I have them move to stories.

Sound in Stories

Practicing the sound in stories is not a step that is typically recommended. In fact it is more common to move straight from sentences to conversation. I have found that with the addition of this step I have more success moving the sound into conversation.

For my younger children I like to prepare a story for them to practice using the sound cards they have been practicing. You may use the stories I have created on my worksheets page. I try to include as many picture clues as I can so young children can retell the story without being able to read.

I have asked older clients to write their own stories using the word cards. They usually come up with very creative stories that are very entertaining for both of us.

After the child has mastered reading the story aloud with 80% accuracy I have them retell me the story without reading it. This is just another small step toward getting an accurate production of the target sound in conversation. Once they can do this I move them to conversation.

Sound in Conversation

In the therapy setting this step can be a little more tricky. I like to use a conversation jar. I have probably 200+ questions in my conversation jar that get my clients talking and telling me all about themselves. It also gives me a more controlled environment where I can track their progress in conversation. You may also consider centering conversation topics around some of the target words they have mastered. However you decide to do it be sure to set a specified time to focus on the correct production of the target sound during conversation. Be sure to correct any inaccurate productions of the target sound at this time.

Generalization

Once the sound has been mastered in words, sentences, stories and in conversation you want to watch for generalization across all the contexts of language. If the child you are working with seems to be having difficulty generalizing the target sound go back and practice the words, sentences and stories again until they are able to produce the sound correctly in daily speech.

A quick review… First practice the sound in isolation, then in syllables, words, sentences, stories, conversation and finally generalizing the target sound in all contexts of language. When this pattern is followed the child has a greater likelihood of success. The only thing that changes in this process is how to elicit the different sounds. This basic pattern of how to teach the sounds remains the same.

I hope this will give you a good starting point in working with the “misarticulations” in your child’s speech. Remember to be patient, and to make it fun!


Heidi - Mommy Speech Therapy Heidi Hanks, M.S.CCC-SLP has been a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist since 2000. She graduated from Utah State University where she completed both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. She began her career in early intervention and eventually started her own private practice where she has worked primarily with pre-K through school age kids. She is the founder of Little Bee Speech, and is currently developing apps for speech and language. Heidi lives in Utah with her husband and 4 children.




63 Responses to “The Process of Articulation Therapy”

  1. joy says:

    Hello Heidi,
    Thank you for your website/blog. It helps and definitely give parents brighter ideas that cost the least. If a child has delayed speech, due to ASD what are more effective, simpler ways or techniques to teach or make him blow bubbles or which oral/motor exercise could possibly help in making a child produce air in circular lips position? As stated, blowing bubbles are one of the ways to also help speech. Thank you for your kindness. and I hope you will have more sharing to come!! (It goes back anyway….in a hundred-fold or more)

    • Heidi says:

      Joy,

      A basic hierarchy for teaching a child to blow bubbles begins with lip awareness. Try blowing a bubble, catching it on the wand, then popping it on your child’s lips. This creates awareness. Do this multiple times. As your child begins to anticipate the bubble on his lips, hold back a little to see if he will come to meet the bubble.

      Next you want to encourage air flow. Hold your child’s hand to your mouth and blow, let him feel the warmth. Then encourage him to do the same on his hand. Now blow another bubble, catch it on the wand and model slow air flow as to make the bubble wiggle but not actually blow off the wand. Now encourage him to do the same. Even if he just takes a deep breath and makes the bubble move by accident, praise him. After he begins to get the idea of making the bubble wiggle, model blowing the bubble off of the wand.

      After your child can blow the bubbles off of the wand consistently you can try having him blow the bubble through the wand. If he still struggles with lip rounding, use your hand to pull his lips forward into a rounded position, then encourage him to blow through the wand.

      Blowing bubbles is a great way to stimulate lip rounding for sounds like /w/ and /o/ and oo. It also helps improve respiratory control which gives the child the strength to say more words on one breath of air.

      Other ways to promote lip rounding include drinking through straws, and blowing horns with a round mouth piece. If your child sees a speech pathologist you might ask for guidance through an oral motor program.

  2. Melissa says:

    Hi, thank you for sharing your worksheets on speech therapy sounds. However, I noticed that some of the worksheets in the S Sounds, S Blends, and TH Sounds links were not working correctly. I though I’d let you know. Thank you again for sharing your wisdom and knowledge with us. :D

    • Heidi says:

      Melissa,

      I am glad you have found the worksheets useful. I am currently trying to finish up some of the /s/ stories, and s blend stories which is why the links are not working. Hopefully I will have them up soon.

  3. Jenn says:

    Hi Heidi,

    I’m so happy to have found your website! My son, who is 2 weeks shy of turning 6, has had a lisp (/s/ and /z/ become /th/) since he learned to talk (early). At around 3 I showed him how to say /sh/ correctly and he has never looked back. Everyone I’ve talked to has said not to bring it up and just be patient and he’ll grow out of it. He is very smart, currently reading at a 3rd grade level, and very vocal. I just don’t want this to become such a habit that he can’t overcome it later and it becomes a problem. I appreciate all of the information and advice you’ve given (for free!) and can’t wait to start working on it with him in a relaxed, fun way! Thank you!! I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes :)

    Jenn

  4. Emily says:

    Hi Heidi-

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for making this blog. I can’t tell you how much this article has been helpful to me. I currently work as an ABA Tutor for a child with autism- and he’s doing great- the only thing is that I can’t understand very much of what he says because he doesn’t pronounce certain sounds- and it all seems random. He can say the “M” in some words but not in others- things like that. I was talking to my aunt, who is a teacher, and she told me that some speech pathologists don’t worry about certain sounds for three and four year olds because it’s not developmental. I understand that some sounds are developmental, but there are many sounds that this child should be able to say. (I think.) I took a quick preassessment to see what sounds he had trouble with and I came up with this list (I haven’t tried your initial and final method- all of these are the short version if they are vowels): a, e, f, j, m, q, r, t, v, w, z, ch, sh, and th. I understand that probably ch, sh, and th are sounds he’s not developmentally ready for- but I definately think he could say m, r, t, v, w, and z. (At least.) I was telling his Mother today about how I wished there was some strategy or pattern that I could use so that I could help him- I’ve only got 6 months until I student teach and I want him to get as much out of tutoring as possible. Then I went home and found your website- and WOW! This completely fits into my program- I will be able to use discrete trial with it, make a target list, track progress, and everything. It lays everything out for me in an easy-to-follow strategy. I know that there will still be some sounds that are beyond my teaching capabilities. (I’m sure J will be hard,) but at least I can help him a little.

    Thank you so much!!

    Emily

  5. Debbie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your expertise in a very clear, practical, easy to understand manner. You have encouraged me. My son has a myriad of issues, used to have speech therapy through the 0-3 and then the public preschool program, but now, at 7, and homeschooled, we can’t afford therapy. I had his articulation tested at 6 and he scored at a 3% with many errors. It was recommended he have therapy 2x a week. However, he has consistently made steady improvements even without it. Since he is so self-aware of his errors, he has been able to work on some of them intuitively, and will tell me with excitement when he discovers he can articulate a sound he once could not. I also continue to use tips and exercises I learned from his therapists. I’m looking for resources to help him cement continued improvements and encouragement that I can do this at home in a fun, gentle way! Thanks again for sharing valuable info and encouragement – God bless!!

  6. Kelly says:

    Can I just say finding your site has MADE MY DAY!!! I graduated with an undergraduate degree in SLP/AUD, Comm. Disorders but ended up having babies instead of pursuing my certification. ;) However, I continue to have a love of speech development and all things communication disorders. Two of my three kiddos are now preschool age and I am starting the journey of homeschooling them. Your site is an amazing tool for me! I love your articles, your practical tips, and your encouraging and comforting tone! Keep up the good work! Grateful for you, and the work you’re doing in maintaining this site!!!

    Take care :)

  7. Natalie says:

    What a fantastic web site. I am a Speech Therapy Assistant in a Primary School and love your worksheets. The information and advice that you provide is fantastic!! Keep up the great work!! So far I have transformed two children with problems pronouncing the “L” sound with your help and support from your website!! Thankyou sooooo much!

    • Heidi says:

      Natalie,

      Thank you so much for your comment. It feels great to hear that the information on my blog is benefiting others. That’s why I do it. I hope you will continue to find information that will support your efforts to improve the speech of those you work with.

  8. Amie says:

    Thank you so much for the ideas and printables. I am a SLP in a new school setting – Thanks!

  9. attia says:

    dear Heidi,
    There are no words to describe how ecstatic, excited and relieved I am to found your blog. I have been searching like crazy for something exactly like this, that can get me started on teaching my son, who has speech delay and for some unfortunate reasons reasons we have no access to any speech pathologist for now. The tools you have described are so easy and practical to follow that I am very confident I will not lose even one day for the care, attention and teaching my precious baby needs. THANK YOU so much from the bottom of my heart.
    God bless you

  10. Louise - Madrid, Spain says:

    Dear Heidi
    Thank you for making my life so much less daunting. We live in Spain, my kids are bilingual and both have problems with articulation, a fact their teachers acknowledge (especially lisping s) but tell me it doesn’t matter for their English since none of the Spanish kids can pronounce English well…. A speech therapist told me to work at home in a calm fashion with the boys but was struggling to come up with words and games. Now thanks to you we have our fun time all sorted.
    Thank you for making such resources available to us non-professionals – there aren’t words to describe how much easier it makes our lives when you give you time and knowledge so freely.
    Next trip home no one is going to have to ask my kids to repeat themselves :-)

    • Heidi says:

      Louise,

      Thank you so much for the nice comments. I’m so happy that my blog has been able to help you find more direction when working with articulation. It can definitely be a little daunting, but with the right tools and bit of direction, you’ll be surprised at how much you will accomplish, good luck. By the way, Spain is at the top of my list of places to visit someday, looks so beautiful!

  11. Rachelle says:

    So glad to find your blog. I have twin boys that we adopted from China about 18 months ago. Both with cleft palates. They were 3 when we brought them home (almost 5 now) and had had no language skills to speak of. We have had two major surgeries for them and they are in speech twice a week. Their receptive language is wonderful. They just don’t want to put multiple word together at all. Lot’s of one word at a time talking and sounds effects. Really looking for ways to make this “fun” because they dread seeing their speech folder. Please feel free to email me any ideas you have.

    • Heidi says:

      Rachelle,

      As the mother you have quite an advantage in that you can do speech all day every day in your daily routine. No speech folder required. For example, if you are cooking dinner and your twins want to help and they say, “help.” You may then say, “Help mommy?” Then, encourage them to say, “help mommy.” Then allow them to help, or not to help. It’s up to you. This is called language expansion. Simply add a word to their utterance and allow them to imitate you. They say “car,” you say “blue car.” Unfortunately, sometimes even with our best intentions as mothers our children may not cooperate, and they may not choose to imitate you. But when it comes to granting their desires we have much more leverage. If they request a cookie, simply don’t give them a cookie unless they put two words together, “more cookie,” or “cookie please.” Be sure to always model what is expected of them and reward them when they make their best attempt, even if it is not perfect. Hope this helps.

  12. Denita says:

    Hi Heidi,

    Like many others, I love your site. I love the name and the concept behind it. I am a SPED preschool teacher and I will be recommending your site to all of my families.

    Most of my students (2-3 years old) have speech delays, along with other disabilities (DS, ASD, etc.) I like the pinwheel analogy you use to explain how to work on speech sounds. However, I find that using board maker pictures help my students to make those initial sounds more readily, instead of waiting until the 3rd step of your process before showing pictures. Even if a child does not have any sounds/language, and I was teaching the /b/ sound, I would pull out my flashcards with words like ball, bubbles, etc. on them. As I show the card, I model the word and encourage the student to imitate the sound, lip formation, or whatever the child can do. I may also have the real object and whatever sound or attempt they make, I use it to teach requesting behaviors as well. Keep up the good work!

    • Heidi says:

      Denita,

      Thank you for your comment. You seem to have a good understanding of how to elicit sounds from little ones. What you are doing is exactly what I have been explaining. Even though you skipped right to pictures the first thing you did was have the child imitate the sound in isolation. That is the first step. Then while showing the same picture you may have the child imitate the sound with a vowel, for example /ba/ for ball. That is step 2. Then finally having them say “ball” is step 3. Keep up the great work. It sounds like you are doing a great job!

  13. Del says:

    Hello Heidi,

    I just happened across your website as I am a speech therapist with a bachelor’s degree and back in the school system after a few years. Recreating everything and getting therapy back in order is a chore and I am glad to have found your sight. My articulation therapy has always been what I see here for the most part from isolation to conversation. I am trying to put together a good way of data collection for articulation and language. The school paperwork is challenging enough and I have been trying to fine tune a data collection form for a while now. Can you help me with this? Any help would be appreciated and I look forward to revisiting your site often.

    • Heidi says:

      Del,

      I am currently working on creating a software program that will make data collection for articulation so easy! I’m very excited about it and I will let you know as soon as I am finished with it. In the mean time good luck with everything.

  14. sidra akram says:

    ur presentation on articulation therpy is vry interesting. i am very impressed. thanks for this information. i will apply this therapy on my patients in pakistan.

  15. karthika says:

    Hi Heidi, This is is not just another website that we browse by and then forget the tips when we leave it. It has substance that are complete and changes the day to day life of parents like me. My son is going to be 7 in july and is attending speech in his school. Now he gets all the sounds except /sh/,/ch/,/j/. At home I have started SH elicitation today as per your directions. Recently he got /s/ and /z/(not completely accurate :( ). Since s is not accurate, he gets /sh/ from ee. We are practicing daily and hoping we will get it. Can I start /ch/ simultaneously or after he gets sh? At school he is doing ch and sh now. I want to do too because it can be more effective if done both at school and home. Your words on this is valuable. :) Thankyou so much.

    • Heidi says:

      Karthika,

      Typically I would recommend that you master the SH sound before you begin the CH sound. In my experience children are more successful when they only have to focus on one sound at a time. The other reason I would do this is because you can shape the CH sound from the SH sound once your child has mastered the SH sound.

      On the other hand if your child can say both sounds correctly in isolation then I would go ahead and follow the advice from your school speech therapist. You are absolutely right that your child will be more successful if he is working on the same thing at home as he is at school.

      Good luck! I know you can do it.

  16. Denise says:

    Thank you so much for your website! My son just turned 4 and has trouble saying “k” and “g” sounds primarily. Also has trouble with “s” and “s” blends. At his 4 year old check up I had the dr write us a referral to a speech therapist. We cannot get in for 2 months, so these tools will be of great help,to start today at home. I have taken notes on sounds he cannot say, what sound he substitutes them with, to be prepared for our first visit. I am excited to begin this journey of helping my son over come these problems. Thank you so much for having so much information that is easy for parents to understand, materials that are fun for our children and gives us the confidence that we can help our children.

  17. Lajja says:

    Hello,
    I need some advice for my son he is 6 years old and having some issue with speech, don’t know where to start.

    • Heidi says:

      Lajja,

      I would start by having him evaluated by a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) in your area to find out what specific speech problems he is having. After your son has been evaluated they will be able to guide you down the path of where to start. In the meantime if you have more specific concerns like how to target a sound he is not saying or how to increase his vocabulary maybe I can help. Just let me know.

  18. Varsha says:

    Great, very helpful blog post on articulation..thanks for helping us through your blog..God bless

  19. Abha says:

    Simply superb! I am going to use your recommendations for my 6 year old. she has problem with K, Kh, G and Gh sounds and I hope straw exercise and practice with the worksheets would help. Are there any other methods/tools that can be of help. Please advise.
    You are really making a difference to so many of us! God bless you.

  20. nicole says:

    To Heidi,

    I am from Australia, I have a son that is 5 years old and will be starting school next year. we have been attending speech therapy on and off for the past year through community health clinics. my son has trouble pronouncing the ‘g’ and ‘k’ sounds. i am trying to find different ways to help my son and i was wanting some advice…. do i need to have my son be able to say the ‘g’ and ‘k’ sounds on their own before we can try and practice the sounds in words such as ‘cat’ and ‘gate’??? do you have any tips on how to deal with my son when he gets frustrated that he cant do this and gives up or ‘shuts down’ and does not want to try anymore. which sound would you recommend we try to teach him first. any help/advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Nicole,

      Yes, you want to make sure your son can say the /k/ and /g/ sounds all by themselves before you start practicing the sound in words like gum or cookie. Read my post, “How to Teach the K and G Sounds” for more tips on how to teach those sounds in isolation. I would recommend you start with the sound he has the most success with whether it is the /k/ or the /g/. If he is too frustrated to try for you give him a break and then try again in a few days. Keep your trials short and be careful not to say anything about his speech when you are not working on it so he won’t become too frustrated. If you still can’t help him say the sounds correctly in isolation consult a speech pathologist for more guidance. Good luck!

  21. Ashley says:

    Wow, your website is incredible. Just what I have been looking for. I feel like crying because I am so happy I found it.
    My daughter is almost 3 and has been in articulation therapy for 4 months because she leaves off final sounds on almost every word. I feel that the process has been slow and she has only slightly improved. We are feeling very discouraged and not sure if she is with the right speech therapist for her. How would I know? How fast should children progress in speech? Our speech therapist is teaching her multiple endings such as p/m/n/t and more at the same time. Would it be easier for my daughter to master one and then move on to the next final sound? Sorry for all the questions, we just feel at a loss. I feel as though her speech is holding her back.
    Your sight is amazing. We live in Utah county and I was wondering if you have any openings for speech? You can send me an email if so.
    Thank you for this amazing site. It really does make me feel like I can help my daughter and home and that we are not alone in this speech therapy process.

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Ashley,

      I am so glad you have found the sight helpful. To answer your question, it is not uncommon for speech therapists to target more than one sound at a time when addressing the phonological process of final consonant deletion. However, I have found it to be more successful to teach one sound at a time. In my experience the child is able to experience more success at a more rapid pace when they are working on an isolated sound. Then after they have mastered one sound they can move on to the next sound and so on. After the child has experienced success with putting 3-5 sounds at the end of words they often begin to generalize the rule and start putting other sounds on the end of words that they haven’t targeted yet in therapy. I’ll be in touch with you via email to see if there is anything more I can do to help out.

      Take care.

  22. Kanika Bali says:

    Hi Heidi,

    It feels great and very satisfying after reading you blog.You have helped me a lot.If you can give some facial muscles exercise tips for enhancing speech of a down syndrome kid of 9 year age,then it would be great.

    Thanks.
    Kanika.

  23. Melanie says:

    Thank you so much for the downloadable worksheets! my 3.5 y.o. son is in speech, but only 1x per week for 20 minutes. He’s been having a really hard time with the F and S blends, which we’ve been working on for 6 months! The Worksheets are basically the same thing his therapist uses in his sessions. I haven’t been able to find something that works for him, but now I can work with him at home because they are similar to his session. THANK YOU THANK YOU!!

  24. Natalie says:

    Thanks for the great website, Heidi! I am an SLP in the public school setting in WI, and have found many helpful links and new activities to try with my elementary kiddos. I love your pinwheel idea for “The Process of Articulation Therapy,” but I think you should add a step #7 – “generalization.” Many of my kiddos fly through the isolation, syllable, and word sections, and become a little more challenged when we get to sentences, stories and conversations. However, they tend to get “stuck” when they think about transferring their (now correctly-produced) sounds outside of the therapy room. I have students who will see me come into their classroom and say, “Uh-oh, now I need to use my good speech sounds!” Generalization is the last, but perhaps most important, piece of the “speech puzzle” and they need to understand that their good speech sounds need to be correctly produced not only in the therapy room, but everywhere! Thanks again for your website, I look forward to coming back to find new things!

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Natalie,

      I love your suggestion! I will definitely add generalization for step #7. That is definitely the last piece and sometimes the most difficult. If our students can say the sounds correctly in therapy but not at home we haven’t accomplished our goals. Thanks again for reading and sharing!

      Heidi

  25. Suzy says:

    My daughter cannot say the SK sound. She pronounces the word school as sool and the words scale as sale. Do you have any suggestions for me on what exercises I may try with her to help her. She is starting kindergarten in the fall. She is currently in pre-school and went through the screening process but was not referred to speech therapy.

    Thank you.

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Suzy,

      First have your daughter imitate the /s/ sound and then the /k/ sound independent of each other. If she can say both sounds accurately in isolation (all by themselves) then she is ready to be taught the sk blend. Have her practice putting the sk sounds together (not in a word) until she is able to master this. Sometimes stretching the /s/ sound out before adding the /k/ sound helps, “sssssssk.” Once she has this down have her add a vowel to it for example, “ska, ski, sko” or “sku.” Once she has this down then have her practice the /sk/ blend in words. You may use the /sk/ words I have on my worksheets page under s blends. Once she gets this have her practice the /sk/ words in sentences and then in stories.

      Best of luck!
      Heidi

  26. Melanie Shannon says:

    I work with preschoolers. I have been searching for a way to help parents practice their child’s sound in sentences and conversation. And it is great not to have to reinvent the wheel. I have been practicing speech therapy for a while and it is so nice to be able to find new ideas and also not have to spend so much time making your own materials all the time. I use to spend a lot of time making my own materials so the internet and sharing between other therapists is soooo helpful. Thank you so much!!!

  27. Fionna says:

    Thank you so much Heidi for your wonderful site. I just stumbled upon it by accident and I have to say it is quite literally an answer to my prayers. I have a granddaughter who was born 10 weeks premature with some complications that required her at have an operation at a week old. She has taken a while to catch up to her peers but is doing really well now at two and a half other than her speech development. Living in Canada, we are fortunate to have free screening and therapy up to three years old (the therapy continues for free if needed through the school system). Her parents seem unconcerned about it as her old sister talked late. I feel it would be best to have her checked to see if there is a problem because I believe early intervention is the key. I could go on but the long and short of it is thank you for providing a way that I can help this little girl articulate her words. I get to see her quite often and I am sure this is going to help her tremendously. Thank you for taking the time to put it all together. It is very much appreciated.

    • Heidi says:

      You’re welome Fionna. What a good grandmother you are to take such an active role in the development of your granddaughter. You are so right, whenever possible early intervention is best. I wish you the best of luck with your granddaughter!

  28. MARIA says:

    Thanks
    Excellent web. page
    Great Information!
    Thanks for sharing with us
    Regards
    María

  29. Sara R says:

    I am looking forward to incorporating these techniques and worksheets more formally into my 4-year-old girl’s home preschool. She was born with a cleft palate and required a second surgery to correct speech. Have you ever worked with cleft palate children? We’re doing pretty well correcting her b’s, d’s, f’s, a little trouble on t’s which she tends to do in her throat, and s, sh, j, ch, g are all in her throat since that is the substitution she chose since she couldn’t make the sound. Any tips/advice unique to cleft palates? She is supposed to see a speech pathologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, but we’ve had trouble getting scheduled, and though they are excellent, I don’t get the sense they try to educate parents much about how they can help. Speech is something that I have always been fascinated with probably since it’s related to singing and music which is closer to my area of expertise.

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Sara,

      It’s been awhile since I have had any children with cleft palate on my caseload. So I don’t have any tips specific to cleft palate. Based on the information you have told me about your daughter I would recommend that you target the /t/ sound next. I would work on shaping the /t/ sound from the /d/ sound she is having success with since they are both made with the tongue tip touching the alveolar ridge (bumpy spot behind the front teeth). To shape the sound start by having her say the /d/ sound and then have her say the /d/ sound quietly (in a whisper), then while saying the /d/ sound quietly have her speed up the repetitions until she starts to say the /t/ sound. Tell her, “That is the /t/ sound.” Then encourage her to say the /t/ sound followed by a voiced vowel. Once she is able to maintain the /t/ sound before the voiced vowel you are ready to start working on the /t/ sound in words.

      You can use the /t/ worksheets on the worksheets page or you may be interested /t/ sound program in Articulation Station on the iPad for fun, motivating ways to practice the /t/ sound.

      Hope this helps!
      Heidi

  30. Jessica says:

    Heidi, you have awesome resources here. Thanks! I’m wondering when a parent should decide its time for professional intervention. My four and a half year old has issues with many sounds, including /f/, /s/ combos, /th/, /o/, /y/, /v/ and /l/. She is a very bright girl and I think it is causing her frustration, especially at school. My gut is that it’s time even though I’ve been told it can wait until kindergarten. What do you think? In the mean time, we will definitely start using some if your worksheets!!

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Jessica,

      I would recommend you follow your gut. With some guided direction from a Speech Language Pathologist preschool age children can often times get their speech cleared up before they enter kindergarten. If it were my daughter, that’s what I would do.

      In the meantime. I hope the worksheets are able to help. I think you would also find Articulation Station on the iPad a really fun and motivating tool to work on your daughters speech at home. I created it for parents (just like yourself), teachers and Speech Language Pathologists.

      All the best!
      Heidi

  31. Jezzie says:

    I have searched online for so long looking for a way to help my 7 yr old daughter with her speech. Unfortunately, our resources are limited, therefore our options are limited. My daughter has struggled with TH words and V words and now she is entering the 3rd grade and kids make fun at how she pronounces words and she has become self-conscious. Your website is AWESOME. We have begun to use your excercises.

  32. Meagan says:

    Hi. I have a couple of questions. I work in the school system and work with gifted students. One of them is working in /r/ and the other is working on /s/ and /z/. What is the best way to target r? He can do it in all levels but still has difficulty in conversations and carry over. I need a good resource for /r / and what games to play because they are 5th grade gifted speech kiddos.

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Meagan,

      Have you looked into “The Entire World of R” products by Christine Ristuccia? She has a wide variety of products for working on the r phoneme. I have also had my r clients work on memorizing and reciting the r stories in Articulation Station based on the specific r they are targeting. That way they can always review it when they need a refresher activity. Another good assignment for them is to come up with an additional set of words that contain the sound they are working on or have them write their own stories using words from their targeted word list. We also work on saying the r correctly during conversation. There is a conversation app out right now on the iPad and iPhone I just love called “Conversation Cards.” It’s a great way to practice that r sound while focusing on something else.

      You may even try playing trash can basketball. Set the timer for 5 minutes and have them speak out loud about a predetermined topic. While they are talking tally all correct and incorrect productions of the targeted r phoneme. At the end of the 5 minutes they can take a shot at throwing a paper ball into the trash can for every correct production and you get three foul shots for every incorrect production. Kids have a ball with this activity. They really enjoy beating you!

      I hope this gives you a few new ideas.

      All the best!
      Heidi

  33. Tara says:

    Thank you so much for this! I’ve had my daughter’s initial assessment along with some weekly sessions. I am unable at this point to continue, although she still needs the therapy. This is wonderful! You have provided the necessary tools for me to continue speech therapy with my daughter . Thank you so much!

  34. Courtney says:

    My daughter is 4.5 and experiencing the same problem I see many of the other moms here describing; she cannot say her /s/ sound. Instead it is always a /th/. I have been working with her for a couple weeks in a gentle manner trying to keep it low stress, but with no improvement. She just does not say /s/ at all – even in isolation. What should I do? Seek professional help? This seems to be the only sound she has trouble forming, and I don’t mean to be overly concerned…

    Thank you so much for creating this blog and helping us moms!

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Courtney,

      The /s/ sound is typically mastered in all sound positions by the time a child is 5, so your daughter is not considered delayed at this time. However, what concerns me is that she is not able to produce an /s/ at all even in isolation after you have been working with her. If it were my daughter I would get her evaluated by a speech pathologist. If you go to the schools, she may not qualify for services since this is the only sound she is having trouble with. If that is the case ask them if they can give you some ideas of how to teach her to say the /s/ sound. If you can afford private therapy that may be the route to take. In the meantime check out my post, “My Child has a Lisp, Should I be Concerned?” for some more ideas on how to elicit the /s/ all by itself. If you can get her to produce a clear /s/ then you can use my /s/ worksheets found on my “worksheets” page to help her practice at home. Or you may also be interested in buying the /s/ program in Articulation Station for iPad and iPhone found on the App Store.

      Hope this helps!
      Heidi

  35. dr laxmi dukariya says:

    hi! this is dr laxmi here and m serving in army as an eye specialist! my son is 2year 6mths old and does not speak except for mum and baba! doctor said mild autism but i cdnt find any such symptom! how to improve his speech !

  36. Kristina Akins says:

    My four year old has recently started adding -a to the end of words. Mommy-a, daddy-a, pee pee-a, any ideas????

    • April says:

      Hi Kristina,
      Sorry for the delay in response. If this problem is still persisting I would recommend contacting a speech therapist. From what you’re describing it could be a phonological process called epenthesis, where children will add a vowel, usually the “a” sound between two consonants in the middle of words, or following a consonant at the end of words i.e. “cup-a”, however, from the examples you used it sounds like your child’s doing this with all words, regardless of whether they end with a consonant or not. This could be considered a form of disfluency or stuttering. Given the opportunity to listen to your child and hear a language sample in an evaluation, a speech therapist would most likely be able to narrow down the probable cause to why your child is doing this and then would be able to give you suggestions for effective intervention. Good luck!

  37. Mona says:

    I’m not sure if you’ll get this but do you have a printable of the pinwheel above. Or do you know where I could find a student-friendly version to help track them track their progress?

    Many Thanks – your blog is UHH-Mazzing!!
    Mona

  38. Mona says:

    Just found the pinwheel :) Thank you!! Oh thank you!!!

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