My child can't say R. Why is R so hard?
Can I share a secret? Many SLPs dread working on R. The thing about R is that it’s not just one sound. R is strongly influenced by the sounds around it, especially vowels. So, while vowels are typically acquired early in the developmental process, R and its 7 variants are often among the last. Something else that makes R challenging is the fact that R can sound correct to our ears even though tongue shape, position, and muscle tension can vary significantly from person to person. SLPs work to elicit R by focusing primarily on two placement variations; however, the path to successful elicitation can sometimes be quite complex, requiring flexibility, ingenuity, and an in-depth analysis of the child’s productions. This is why an SLP who is comfortable with R is your best bet when looking for someone to help remediate it in your child.
Another point to consider is that while your child may develop R without intervention as late as age 8 or the end of second grade, those children who produce R with distortion will benefit from early intervention.
How do I know if my child needs speech therapy?
An SLP can guide you to find the right answer for your child. The good news is that R can be worked on at any age and early intervention is quite successful.