Got a Question about Vocalic R Articulation Disorders? Ask Mrs. R. Questions for 2008-2009 School Year

Got questions about vocalic /r/ articulation disorders? We’re starting a new page for questions for the new school year 2008-2009. What questions might you have regarding vocalic /r/ or The Entire World of R?


  1. I have a straight A 11 year old daughter who has had speech therapy through the school for problems articulating R sounds. She has had weekly or twice weekly sessions since 2nd grade and is now starting 6th grade. Although improved since 2nd grade, she still has noticable problems, mostly with air and ear sounds. Her 5th grade teachers did not note any improvements last year and I can’t say I did either. The speech teacher has not impressed me in my conferences/conversatons with her. There is no option for a different teacher. Should I pull her out of the in-school program and seek out a private speech therapist? If so, what questions do I ask to ensure I get someone who is dedicated and good with R’s? My daughter is very interested in voice and drama so proper articulation is important. Can I expect she will get to 100% and how many years of R correction should it take?
    Thanks very much for any advice.

  2. Here are some pertinent questions to ask the school-based speech-language pathologist. Once, I have the answers to the questions, I can make appropriate recommendations:

    Is the school-based Speech-language pathologist utilizing The Entire World of R screening tool to determine the appropriate intervention targets? Can your daughter say any of the /r/ sounds and/or word positions correctly? If so, does the speech-language pathologist know what tongue position your daughter is using naturally when she produces a correct /r/?

    Does the speech-language pathologist have very specific goals for the /r/ sounds that are being misproduced?

  3. First, thank you for your reply. I am quite sure the school is not using The Entire World of R screening tool.

    My daughter can say many of the r sounds correctly. I will ask if the SLP knows what tongue positions she currently uses correctly. The specific goals listed on her school summary are not clear to me. At my last conference, I asked what she had left to work on and how long she thought it might take to achieve 100%. Unfortunately, I left frustrated, as I could not get a clear, defined answer. This particular SLP talks and talks and talks and never seems to provide answers to my specific questions.

    Until I found your site, I did not understand all the different r issues and didn’t know there were 21 types of r’s.
    I wish I knew how many of the 21 my daughter still needs to work on. I plan on setting up a conference with the speech teacher and the head of the Child Studies Team to see if I can get a better understanding of where my daughter stands based on your 21 r’s.

    I am going to scan and email to you a few pages of the school summary of progress for 5th grade (her last year of speech) and also the only evaluation info I have been supplied, which includes the results of the Goldman Fristoe Test of Articulation – but it was done 2 years ago and the state only mandates it every 3 years…so the only newer info I have is the speech therapist’s summary for end of 5th grade.

    Your site has already helped me tremendously in getting an overall understanding of the extent of r issues and will help me also I think in getting a better answer from the school as to my daughter’s r status. Thank you so much.

  4. Dear Ginny-

    You had mentioned that your daughter is able to say many of the /r/’s correctly. That is a good sign. The goal is to use the /r/’s that she can say to elicit the other misproduced /r/ variations. You expressed a desire to know exactly which /r/’s she has to work on. You have three options: 1). You can purchase The Entire World of World of R Advanced screening tool and administer and score yourself. 2). You can purchase The Entire World of World of R Advanced screening tool and have the school speech-language pathologist administer and score. 3). You can tape your daughter saying the words on The Advanced screening and send the tape to me and I can give my recommendations. That is called The Entire World of R Support package.

    Best of luck!

  5. Thanks very much. I just ordered the Advanced Screening tool that you recommended and will test my daughter myself and also ask the school SLP if she would be willing to do so. I hope she will be interested in what you have to offer as certainly it could be very helpful to her in teaching other children with R issues as well. I will let you know how I make out.

    Thanks again for your advice and encouragement. As a parent, we rely on the experts and when you don’t see improvement, you often don’t know where to turn for advice.

  6. Mrs. R,

    We’ve been working with a student that is now in the 7th grade. His /r/ errors are across the board still. We’ve been looking for a computer program that he might be able to utilize. After years of working with us he is begining to shut down a great deal. His parents have even reached that point. We are hoping to find an interactive computer software program that he can use while working in our sessions. Have you any ideas?

    Thank you…
    Bless you!!
    Vicki R.

  7. Hi Vicki-

    What type of computer program are you referring to? One for practicing /r/?

    Before I recommend a computer program, I would try the following technique:
    I have many /r/ students who are younger who have also shut down. What usually works is determining which /r/’s and word positions have been misproduced using The Entire World of R Advanced Screening. Many times, if they have been receiving speech for a year or more working on /r/, they misproduce nearly all of the /r/ variations. In that case, I administer the Entire World of R Elicitation Probe which is contained in the Advanced screening. This probe contains all nonsense words for all of the /r/ variations. Since there is no lexical meaning the students are usually more successful at producing these. Once you find a starting point of a successfully produced /r/ variation, use nonsense words for your target probe lists. These can be found in The Entire World of R Book of Elicitation Techniques.

  8. I have an 8th grade cognitively delayed student who only has a very, very slight (almost non-existent) approximation of the medial /ear/ (cereal). I have not been able to help her produce a more precise medial /ear/ and I think that I need to move on to another vowel+r target.

    I have had great success with your program in the past, and I have a feeling that this student can also be successful, even with the cognitive delay. This is the first year I have seen her for therapy. Do you have any suggestions to help elicit a /vowel+r/ production?

    She also has some other sound errors that she has been able to correct; she still needs cues to produce “sh.”

    Thank you.

  9. Julie-

    I would administer The Entire World of R Elicitation Probe which is contained in the Entire World of R Advanced Screening or in the Entire World of R Book of Elicitation Techniques. This will enable you to screen your student and listen for correctly produced or misproduced contexts of medial ear + other consonants. You will be able to determine which are successfully or unsuccessfully produced. You can use these contexts which are contained in word lists in the Book of Elicitation techniques to help her practice the medial ear.

  10. I have been hearing conflicting information about when to start working on /r/. Our school corporation has always said 2nd grade, but I am now hearing 5-6 years old. What are your thoughts on this? I recently evaluated a student who is 5-10 and his only errors were with /r/. He was stimulable for prevocalic /r/ and also produced “tr” blends. What would you do?

  11. Hello, My daughter is 5 and a half years old, and has had speech therapy to correct several sounds. She is sounding great, and is understood by family friends well. But she still has trouble with the /r/ sound. Should I pursue private speech therapy again now, or do I have to wait until she is in school?

    Thank you!

    • It really depends on how stimulable she is for the /r/ sound. Can she produce any of the /r/’s at all? Administering a comprehensive /r/ screening such as The Entire World of R Advanced screening would help you determine if she can produce any of the /r/ variations.

  12. Hello,
    I am a parent with a ten year old son who has been in speech therapy for a couple of years. The last sound he has been working on is “r”. He is able to produce it in many situations (for example he is able to produce it in the initial position and in some medial and final positions in his everyday speech). His speech therapist feels he is mainly stuck on the “or” sound. He is able to produce it correctly to some degree by dropping his chin and exaggerating the sound, but we have yet to see it in his everyday language.

    Our options for the summer are 1) private speech therapy (at over $200 per session, which is not covered by our insurance), or 2) working with me.

    Do you think I, as a parent without a background in speech therapy, would be able to have success in helping him over the summer by using your program? And if so, which materials would you recommend I purchase?

    Thank you.

  13. Hello-

    I have worked with several parents before on similiar issues. You have some options. The most cost-effective method is purchasing The Entire World of R Advanced Screening form and administering it to your son yourself. That way you will have a clear picture of what he can and cannot produce. When you have this completed, you can purchase either The Entire World of R Instructional workbook which contains homework sheets for practice or many of the other products that we have for the /r/ phoneme. We would be happy to make some recommendations.

    If that isn’t successful, we have The Entire World of R Support package which you administer the screening, send me the tape, I listen to it and recommend a target sound and give you support via e-mail or phone.

    Good luck!

  14. I have a daughter who just turned 4 and says /w/ instead of /r/ no matter where an R appears in a word. I know that this isn’t considered a developmental problem for a child of her age and that this is one of the last sounds to master. I’m just wondering whether there is anything I should be doing to gently help her with the R sound, or is it preferable to just ignore it for the time being and wait until she’s older? I’m fine with doing nothing and seeing if the problem will correct itself naturally; I just don’t want to find out later that I shouldn’t have put it off! Thanks for any input you could provide.

    • Shauna,

      The /r/ sounds does develop later than other sounds, so there is the possibility that it will self correct. However, it’s a good idea to provide a little help as well. If she’s unintelligible, then you should have her evaluated by a speech-language pathologist. Otherwise, you should try modeling and then asking her to repeat /r/ and /w/ words, such as ride/wide, whip/rip, ring/wing, run/won, read/weed, etc. Contrasting the words should help her hear the difference so that she can learn to self-correct.


  15. I’m hoping you can help me. I have had many students who produce all sibilants laterally. After they master the correct production of /s/ and /z/ with a central airstream in conversational speech, most have naturally generalized the production of /ch/, /j/, /sh/ and /zh/.
    Currently, I have a student who lateralized the production of all sibilant sounds. He made extraordinary progress with the production of /s/ and /z/, and has generalized the correct production.
    Now, I feel somewhat ‘stuck’. After teaching him the correct production of /ch/, /sh/ and /j/, would you generalize all three or would you generalize them one at a time? Note that this student completes his ‘speech homework 4-5 days per week.
    I have an IEP coming up on this youngster so I’m looking forward to your response.

    • Have you performed a screening on /ch/, /sh/ and /j/ in the various word positions? That is the procedure I take using The Entire World of SH & CH Screening Form. I usually work on each phoneme and word position at a time. I write the goals accordingly. If you administer the screening, you will have more information for yourself and the parent.
      Good luck!


  16. I am a 53 yr old women that has great difficulty saying the letter r I have received speech therapy all throughout childhood with no help Ijust recently received speech therapy but my R’s are now distorted. Iwas told to put my tongue down and put the sides of my tongue near my teeth. i have a bony torres that is quite large ,when i place my tongue up and behind this bump my R’s sound good. the problem is I can’t move my fast enough to form words also my tongue sweeps the torres to to get in position .please help me understand where the correct placement of the tongue should be for a person with a torres on the roof of her mouth. Thank you

    • Nancy,

      Palatal tori or torus are growth on the palate. I don’t have much experience with this phenomenon. Perhaps someone reading this does?

      Do you produce a correct /r/ in some context? For example can you say ring, race, and run? How about earring, Ireland, or organize? If you can produce the sound successfully on one context, then whatever is happening with respect to your tongue, lips, jaw and palate is correct. Try to replicate that motion for other words that are not correctly produced. I don’t advocate “teaching” a specific technique for /r/, but rather to reinforce what already works for the individual.

      I would give yourself the Entire World of R Advanced Screening and tape yourself so that you can go back and score it. Look for correct productions and determine what your tongue is doing during those correct productions. Research shows that 98% of the population can produce at least one type of /r/ (Curtis and Hardy). It is important that you know what your natural production is prior to practicing /r/ words.
      If you would like, we have a support program where you tape the productions and I listen to the tape and make recommendations. It is called The Entire World of R Evaluation Support Package.

      Hope that helps.


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