Thursday, November 3, 2011

Eyebrow-Raising Errors

A few years back, a young mother dropped by my office. She was concerned because her son, Nick, could not pronounce his “tr” sounds. I assured her she shouldn’t worry since he was only 3 ½ years old, and many children can’t pronounce “r” sounds before they’re seven. She didn’t seem comforted by my assurances - not at all. She went on to explain that when he tried to say “tr” it came out “f”. “Well that’s different,” I agreed. “Nick is reducing the cluster ‘tr’ to one sound. He probably reduces other clusters. Does he say, ‘top’ for ‘stop’?”
            “Yeeess” she drew the word out like she was reluctant to agree. I could tell I wasn’t giving her the help she was looking for.
“That is a phonological process,” I told her, “‘cluster reduction,’ most children go though a similar stage. He’ll probably outgrow it by the time he is four.”
“But, you don’t understand,” she had a pleading look on her face. “I don’t think we can wait until he is four. He always says ‘f’ for ‘tr’.” Her face turned red and she lowered her voice. “And he loves to talk about trucks.”
There are other phonological processes that cause parents concerns but this particular error raised a lot of eyebrows! I gave Nick some help with his “t” sound and soon he was saying “twuck” for “truck”. He wasn’t ready to pronounce “r” but the improvement eased some of his mother’s stress.
A few weeks later she asked if I could help Nick with his “s” sounds. I explained that like “r” the “s” sound is a later developing consonant so she shouldn’t worry. “But he uses a “d” for “s”. Once again, I admitted that was a different sort of problem. “That’s the phonological process called ‘stopping’. He’s stopping the airflow so his “s” sounds like ‘d’. Does he say ‘berry’ for ‘very’?”
“Yes, but I’m not worried about that. Could you just correct his ‘s’ so it doesn’t sound like a ‘d’? He really needs help – his brother’s name is, Sam!

1 comment:

  1. I always laugh with that error. ;) Congrats on the book!