My 10 year old son continues to say his “r’s” as “w’s”. He is a straight-A student, scored the highest in math and reading on the national academic achievement test, but he can’t learn to say his “r’s” properly. He has a passion for acting and his acting teacher has told him he needs to work on his “r’s.” He has seen a speech pathologist for a total of 3 years since he was 3…What can I do to help him get quick results?
I doubt I can tell you anything a speech therapist hasn’t already worked with, and changing these kinds of patterns can take time. It is important for your son to stay relaxed, playful and positive. Try to observe how your son works and to assure him in any way you can to help him relax.
That being said, here is something to try: “R” is formed by raising the tip of the tongue toward the gum of the front teeth (but not touching). Since “W” is made by rounding the lips, if he can avoid involving the lips he might be able to distinguish the “r” from the “w.” Have your son practice smiling broadly and moving his tongue up and down without moving his lips.
Next, say the vowel “ah” with a smile (which will draw the lips to the side). Now say “ah” while raising the tip of tongue without moving the lips. This movement should result in an “r,” and if the tongue is kept in this position while the vowel is sustained it might even become a rolled “r.”
Try to speak words that begin with a “ree,” “ray” or “ra” sound. Avoid “o” or “oo” words until later as they cause the lips to round. Perhaps it would help to use a mirror so your son can see when his lips round. Later, when the movement of the tongue is mastered the lips will become involved again. I do recommend you seek out a speech therapist again — someone playful and passionate who can make the art of speaking as compelling as acting.