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Helping 4 Year Old with Speech Issues

I'm wondering if any of you have experience with helping your children learn to say letter sounds that they are having trouble with? At my son's 4 year appointment several months ago his ped. suggested that I start working on correcting some of his speech difficulties (r's, sh, th, and ch are the main ones) We can help him say ch, th and sh correctly by reminding him and saying the word several times with him, but he just can't seem to make the "r" sound properly, no matter where in the word it appears. Do any of you have any ideas or know fun game-like exercises that I could do with him to help him get his mouth to properly form r's? I want to stay super low-key about this, and I know most kids correct these things on their own as they mature. But I figured if I could help him slowly work on it in a way that would stay fun and lighthearted for him, it would help him to be understood better by adults and boost his confidence (not that he has much difficulty with that, he is very communicative and talkative and most people can understand him just fine. Friends joke that he sounds Bostonian. :-) But I'm sure you get my drift!


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Thanks for all the great advice AND reassurances. I think I will call our school district this week and see about getting him in for a speech evaluation. Then we'll just go from there. Thanks again!

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hey when i was young I had speech difficulties as well! I was diagnosed with a sub-mucosal cleft palate when i was five. Has this been ruled out yet if not it is like a five second diagnosis they just look in the back of the throught. Other then that I dont know what to tell you!

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Bless you for asking, H. --- QUICK like a bunny make an appt with a speech therapist in your school district and trust me -- r and y are NOT developed at 4 --- that would NOT be an appropriate expectation ( special ed teacher - worked with speech pathologists who specialized in early childhood development for over 20 years ) ----- it will come in time- and truly- all the sounds you set out ( the combination sounds - ch - sh - etc ) are slow - and will 'bloom' over the next months. Why did your ped. raise the issue ????? Each person ( even a pediatrician) has their own prejudices and imperfections. Trust me - and get that second opinion ( froom the school) How??? Call your districts special ed office- explain your pediatricians concern- and ask them to make your son a '''focus of interest'' -- they will- and will set in motion a process where the school will call you in and have a speech therapist play with him, then evaluate his speech. In the ( in my opinion) unlikely event that he needs help- they will set it up -- all districts provide programs for children birth up if there is an identified issue ( like speech -- behavior--- motor --- cognition---) ANY of those -- and that is ---sadly --- one of the best kept secrets in the country- it's sad - as a few weeks of support now means a child can fly like an eagle in school---.

aka - old Mom

1 mom found this helpful

hey when i was young I had speech difficulties as well! I was diagnosed with a sub-mucosal cleft palate when i was five. Has this been ruled out yet if not it is like a five second diagnosis they just look in the back of the throught. Other then that I dont know what to tell you!

1 mom found this helpful

My first suggestion is to not worry about the r sound. My daughter was in speech therapy starting when she was 3. She needed help with her articulation. With help, she learned all her sounds except r before she started kindergarten. The speech therapist worked with her on r for a little while, but my daughter just got frustrated. After a month or so, the speech therapist suggested that she was ready to "graduate" from speech therapy. She said that many kids can't make the r sound at that age. It is physically difficult for them. She also said that with only the r sound missing, my daughter wouldn't even qualify for speech therapy if she were tested again. My daughter is seven now and has mastered the r sound on her own, without any guidance from anyone.

That being said, if you are determined to teach your son how to say an r sound, I would try to focus on saying it at the end of words. It is generally easier to master in that part of a word. After he starts saying it at the end of words, you can start having him say words slurred together, like airrrobin, or earrrrun. Then gradually have him separate the two words. It might help him to then say the r at the beginning of words.

If you think your son's problem is severe enough, elementary schools offer speech therapy services to preschool kids free of charge. Contact the school district and find out what you have to do to have your son tested. They will be able to tell you what kind of help your son needs.

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It wasn't until I was in the second grade when someone asked my parents how long we had lived in Boston (when we had never been) that they realized I had a speech problem with not being able to say my "r's". It took a year of speech therapy to fix it and I have no problems now. The speech therapy involved me saying words with "r" in them, empahsizing the "r", over and over. I would walk aroudn the house saying "carrrrrrrr" and the such. It's still a joke in my family to this day because everyone was involved in it and helped me not feel strange by having to emphasize the "r's". I'd try to work on words that end in "r", heavily pronouncing the "r". I was teased as soon as I got into Kindegarten, but never told my parents about it. If he is getting into Kindergarten soon, they have speech therapy programs in schools that you may be able to check into through the Head Start program.
Good Luck!

Please don't brush this under the rug! My daughter also had (has) difficulties with the "r" sound. I wish we would have been told when she was 4 - not when she was 8. The sooner you can learn the tools to help your son, the better. And if you have insurance, they will sometimes cover speech therapy if it is caught very young. Ours didn't cover it after 4. Your local elementary school should be able to put you in contact with a resource in the school district to help! good luck! p.s. we also got the boston accent comment!!

HI, my son is 5 1/2 now and has been in early childhood for a year now. He has been diagnosed as a High functioning Autistic. When he was two I noticed he was not much on talking and had a hard time communicating. When he turned four I took post it and wrote "chair" and placed it on the chair. when he would walk by or use the items that were marked he would say them. He is now 5 1/2 and we are working on reading sight words(car, house, tree, so on)I found some flash cards at Wal-Mart that you place 3 cards together to spell the words and has the picture of the word (like a puzzle. I also point to each word when I am reading to him. His speech and reading skills has improved 90%, he still has a couple letters he has trouble saying in a word (like truck -fruck.) Will you son be old enough to start school in the fall? If so, contact the school he will be going to and the speech pathologist will test him and let you know if he will need extra help. good luck and keep up the good work.

My 6 year old daughter also has issues with her r's. You could try giving him a little piece of hard candy (sugarfree if you prefer) and place it on his tongue while having him repeat words with the r sound. This was the therapy for my best friend's little girl and it seemed to teach them how to hold their tongue to get the correct sound. Hope this helps.

If you are in Wash state you can take your child to any public school and get speech help. My son also had those issues and they "cured" the problem in something like three months.

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