Saturday, March 24, 2012

Now I've Done It (Bad Speech Habit Acquired - Help!)

Ava has been doing so well with her blends. She went from simply eliminating the second consonant in an s-blend to being able to include both consonants almost every time. I was excited about that achievement and simply failed to notice that she began inserting a pretty prominent schwa to the end of the /s/. So, instead of saying "snow" or even "ssssssno," she's saying "suh no". (or "suh pin", "suh tep", etc...) I think it happened gradually and I just didn't catch it early. I really should have caught it, but I'm just not perfect. In fact, I'm only aware of it now because one of her speech teachers pointed it out to me. I was pretty embarassed. Now adding that schwa seems firmly ingrained in her motor planning for s-blends and I can't figure out how to get rid of it. Her therapist recommended shortening the /s/ and overemphasizing the second consonant when modeling, but that isn't helping.

Does anyone have any strategies they use under such circumstances?


One year ago I reflected on my jealousy when watching other babies smile and the possible impact of oral apraxia on the infancies of my children.


  1. Elongating the /s/ has usually worked for me. I have used a picture of a snake to remind the kids of the sound a snake makes. Also with this I usually do a lot of auditory bombardment.

    I wanted to add that I really appreciate all your artic picture cards, they really make doing therapy easier for me, as I can just print 1 sheet as needed, work on it and send it home with specific notes to parents.

  2. I have had a lot of success with having the child trace their finger down their arm while making the /s/ sound. Now, when they forget to use the /s/, all I have to do is touch my shoulder and they automatically say /s/ in front. I agree with the elongating at first, then fade that by having them say it fast. Maybe they just need a break from that target...and get a fresh start after awhile.

  3. My son used to move in and out of such peculiarities. For example, he would say "s-Horry, S-Huzie" for a while before (without any further intervention) being able to say "sorry, Suzie". I know this is not the same as blends, but maybe it's just another example of an apraxic kid needing time to process it all, and taking some detours on the way. I would praise her for articulating both consonants and then just wait and see what happens once she says these words faster.

    1. I think you're probably right. Her system just needs some more time to practice sequencing those phonemes more quickly. I need to just be patient and let things happen sometimes.

  4. Thanks for the suggestions. I've done both of those things in the past, but I was trying to fade those cues when she reached 100% accuracy with them. As it turns out, if I put them back in (elongating the /s/ and using the tracing down the arm gestural cue) she drops the schwa insertion easily and goes back to a nice (if heavily modified) production of the blend. So, your suggestions worked. Thanks for the reminder to go back to basics.

    Perhaps we need to just sit here a while and let the motor planning sink in a little further with the modifications and prompting before trying to fade them out again.

  5. I would go back to the visual cueing level. We have a lot of success using visual phonics (Dave Krupke) as it is easier I think to combine two handshapes for a blend, and they are made closer to the point of production/placement. I too feel like my kiddos with Apraxia phase in and out before skills are firmly established.
    I want to thank you for your artic cards. I have used them so much in my therapy. THANKS!

  6. As a graduate student who just finished my school placement last year I did LOTS (& when I say lots I mean L O T S) of blend activities with my kiddos. My supervisor brought it to my attention that the model I was using was eliciting a "buh-lue" or "suh-lip", so i started using those cheap magnet letters you can get at the dollar store. I placed them on a dry erase board and began teaching the blends as "two sounds" at the beginning of their target words. I drew a line down the center of the board and put the target blends (/sw/ /bl/ /sn/ for example) on one side and the added 'uh' on the other side (so it would look like this 'su-l' showing that they are adding an extra 'uh' in the middle fo their blend).As they would produce their target words I would point to which example I heard- if it had the extra 'uh' in it I would have them tap each sound in their "two sound" blend. This gave them a good visual & the dry erase markers are a hit for a short break!


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