Bunched or Retroflex? Which /r/ You?
I'll admit it: I'm at bit rusty on working on /r/ sounds. This is the first time in four school years that my caseload has included /r/ students due to my caseload/classroom assignments. Back at my previous job I had case after case of /r/ students,
and most of the children who learned the sound were dismissed. Now that I'm back
into full /r/ mode, I find that my skills in this area need a bit of
practice and refinement.
I have several students work on /r/ at all different levels. The cases that are giving me a run for my money this year involve students who are simply not stimulable for /r/.
Although they can discriminate correct vs. incorrect /r/s in my
speech, they just can't seem to "get" a correct /r/ in their own speech
patterns. I've been pulling everything out of my speech
bag of tricks, as has my graduate student extern, but in some cases we
just haven't been successful in eliciting a correct /r/! I know you've all been there - doing everything under the sun
except for standing on your head to elicit a correct /r/ sound (hmm,
should I try that one this week? You never know...),
and still no success. It's frustrating for us as SLPs, but it's also very frustrating for the students.
this week one of my SLP friends - you know,
the ones you ask for speech advice, give advice to, and trust
their professional judgments completely! -
sent a Facebook message to a group of her SLP friends asking for help
with - you guessed it! - a stubborn /r/ case! She had listed the numerous
strategies that she had tried with this student, but none of them had worked.
I offered her
one suggestion that I didn't see on the list: "How
about trying the retroflex /r/?" I suggested it
because the day before I had a student who just was not getting the
bunched /r/, so I tried the retroflex. Sure enough the student got it
and was saying works like "dollar" correctly within
five minutes! Proud of my retroflex success earlier the same week, I
just had to share it with her. Little did I know that this conversation would inspire this blog!
The SLP to whom I suggested the retroflex /r/ said she hadn't tried it because she "can't make a retroflex /r/, so it's really hard for me to teach.
I sound like a Wookie." (The Star Wars nerd in me loves this reference, as I can only imagine what she sounds like when trying to say a retroflex /r/!) However, another SLP friend of mine chimed in with her own opinion on the retroflex /r/: "I find
it's easier for them to see since they can keep their mouths open while
getting the tip of the tongue up and back. I can still look inside to see if
they are doing it, and they can see it in a mirror."
Then, in response to the Wookie comment, she noted, "I'm the
opposite...I can't teach the bunched /r/." I was completely fascinated by this discussion as I personally
can produce both the bunched and retroflex /r/. I've taught them both
over my years working in the schools. I prefer teaching the bunched /r/ (as that is how I say my /r/
sound), but I've had some students who just couldn't get it but did find
success with the retroflex.
appears in my small sample of colleagues that there are SLPs in all
three categories - those who can produce and teach both bunched and
/r/, those who can only teach and produce bunched /r/, and those who
can only teach and produce retroflex /r/!
I'd love to hear from more SLPs on this subject!
Which one /r/ you? Bunched? Retroflex? Both? Feel free to comment here or on the ADVANCE Facebook page!