R Sound Speech Therapy

R Sound Speech TherapyI frequently provide r sound speech therapy to children and young adults who have difficulty producing this sound.  As a Falls Church speech therapist, I explain to parents and clients why this sound is often so difficult to produce and what strategies and techniques can be used to improve production.

R Sound Speech Therapy

By what age should an individual be able to accurately produce the “r” sound?

While some children may accurately produce the “r” sound by age 5, other children may not develop this sound until approximately age 7.

Why is the “r” sound so difficult to produce?

There are several reasons why the “r” sound is so difficult to produce.  First, there are twenty-one different contexts in which the “r” sound can be produced, which are determined both by word position and surrounding vowels that occur in specific words.  For example, in the word “Ring,” the “r” sound is considered pre-vocalic as it occurs before a vowel.  In words such as “army,” “barn,” and “star,” the “r” sound is considered post-vocalic as it follows a vowel.  Different “r” sound contexts often present unique challenges to children and adults, meaning that not all contexts are equal in level of complexity.  Second, as the “r” sound is less visual (i.e., difficult to see correct tongue placement during production) than other sounds, it is often more difficult to explain to children and adults how to correctly produce this sound.

What strategies can help with “r” sound production?

If you or someone you know has difficulty producing the “r” sound, a certified and licensed speech-language pathologist should be consulted for advice and guidance.  Specific strategies typically aim to improve both auditory (i.e., improving one’s ability to hear a correct sound production) and production (i.e., correct placement of articulators – tongue, jaw, and lips).

The following link provides helpful suggestions for eliciting correct “r” sound productions:

Eliciting an accurate “r” sound

R Sound Speech Therapy in Northern Virginia

If you are interested in learning about A Step Above Speech Language Pathology and the speech and language services that we provide, please contact us for more information.  We cater to clients in Northern Virginia, specifically in Herndon, Arlington, Vienna, Reston, Annandale, Fairfax, Merrifield, and also in Washington, D.C.


Gilbert, D., Ristuccia, J., & Ristuccia, C. (2005). The Entire World of R Book of Elicitation Techniques.  Georgia: Say it Right.

Bedsole, K. F., & Johnson, C. M. (2006). Why is “R” So Hard to Say? Answers to Questions Parents Ask About the “R” Sound. Retrieved from http://www.superduperinc.com/handouts

Rogers, G. (2013). Tips, Tricks, and a Handy Tool for Teaching the R Sound. Retrieved from http://www.mommyspeechtherapy.com



Geoffrey Greenman, M.A., CCC-SLP is a Northern Virginia speech therapist.  He is the owner of “A Step Above Speech-Language Pathology.” We are a Reston, Virginia speech private practice that provides r sound speech therapy.

Child Reading Disorders

Child Reading DisordersAs an Herndon speech therapist, I am often asked to explain what I do on a daily basis.  Typically, I begin by explaining that in the past speech therapists were primarily involved in correcting speech problems such as stuttering and speech sound errors.  I then explain that speech therapy has evolved into a profession that currently targets speaking and listening skills, accent modification, social communication abilities, and treatment of child reading disorders.  After providing this explanation, a reaction that I frequently receive is, “Child reading disorders?  Why does a speech-language pathologist work with children on improving their reading skills?”  This is a great question that I would like to address in more detail.

Child Reading Disorders

First, it often comes as a surprise to most people that a child’s later reading and spelling abilities are often related to their early speaking skills.  Children with reading and spelling problems, including dyslexia, have difficulty accessing a specific component of the language system: the phonologic system.  The phonologic system is the functional part of the brain where the sounds of language are put together to form words and words are broken down into their component sounds.  A child that has difficulty accessing the phonologic system is often described as having “phonological processing” difficulties.  Children with “phonological processing” issues often exhibit difficulties with the following skills that may serve as a warning sign to later reading and spelling difficulties including dyslexia:

–  Delay in speaking (Children with reading and spelling concerns may not have begun saying their first words until 15 months or used phrases until their second birthday)

–  Difficulties in pronunciation of words

–  Insensitivity to rhyme (Difficulty reciting nursery rhymes and confusing words that sound alike)

As speech therapists are often the first professionals to notice these potential warning signs in pre-school and elementary aged students, it is critical that they have a solid understanding of the relationship between early language and later developing literacy skills.

Once a deficit in accessing the phonologic system has been identified, it is the responsibility of the speech-language pathologist to work collaboratively with other members of the child’s multi-disciplinary team (e.g., classroom teacher, reading specialist, etc.) to develop and implement a plan to improve the child’s ability to access the sound structure of language.

As an Arlington speech therapist who frequently works with children with literacy concerns including dyslexia, I utilize the Phono-Graphix method of teaching reading and spelling to assist in developing a child’s skills.  At its core, the Phono-Graphix method emphasizes four concepts and three skills that are essential to improving a child’s reading and spelling abilities:


1. Letters are pictures of sounds

2. A sound picture can be made with one or more letters (e.g., ch, oo, se)

3. There is more than one way to show the same sound (We call this variation in the code – e.g., ‘oa,’ ‘ow’ for the sound ‘o’)

4. There is overlap in the code (e.g., the sound picture ‘ow’ represents two sounds – clown vs. snow)

Skills Targeted:

1. Segmenting – The ability to separate the sounds in words

2. Blending – The ability to blend, or connect, sounds into meaningful words

3. Phoneme Manipulation – The ability to move sounds in and out of words

Phono-Graphix differs from traditional phonics programs in the following ways:

–  It is organized around what the child/adult already knows (i.e., speech)

–  The program is not rule-driven, and does not teach letter names, word families, or short/long vowels

–  Phonological awareness (i.e., segmenting, blending, phoneme manipulation) is addressed in every lesson

–  Emphasis is on active discovery by the learner

If your child would benefit from improved reading and spelling skills, consider contacting a Phono-Graphix provider in your area.

More information about Phono-Graphix can be found at the following:


If you are interested in learning more about reading therapy provided by A Step Above Speech Language Pathology, please contact us for more information.  We cater to clients in Northern Virginia, specifically in Herndon, Reston, Arlington, Vienna, Mclean, Annandale, Fairfax, Merrifield, and Washington, D.C.


McGuinness, C. & McGuinness, G. (1998). Reading reflex: The foolproof Phono-Graphix method for teaching your child to read. New York: Fireside

Shaywitz, S. (2003). Overcoming dyslexia: A new and complete science-based program for reading problems at any level.  New York: Knopf



Child Reading DisordersGeoffrey Greenman, M.A., CCC-SLP is a Northern Virginia speech therapist.  He is the owner of “A Step Above Speech-Language Pathology.” We are an Arlington speech private practice helping to correct child reading and spelling disorders.















Virginia Elementary Schools Request Test Waivers

Interesting article related to 24 Virginia elementary schools applying for waivers from state testing to further develop students’ reading skills: