Today's February Feature is a wonderful post from Kim Lewis, MA, CCC-SLP. You may know kim from her blog, Activity Tailor. Check out her ideas for those tough velar sounds!
Let’s Take a Giant Step Back!
When you talk to a “front-er” it seems so pervasive. But what makes it fun is that once you get back sounds going there is a dramatic improvement in how they sound!
This is the trick that I’ve had a lot of success with in my therapy sessions.
***Before you start, be sure your student has no physical limitations that would make these movements inappropriate. Also, children should be supervised at all times and you need to keep constant contact for safety!
1 1. I sit the child on the ball and gently bounce them so they feel comfortable. I’ll have them open their mouth wide and ask them to imitate either /k/ or /g/. (Current best practices suggests focusing on voiced targets. For this, I’m not choosy. Anything in the back is great.) We might even do a pretend cough or two.
2 2. I slowly lay them back on the ball so their head is slightly below their chest. Some kiddos need easing into this position; many don’t mind at all.
3 3. Again, I have them open wide, keep it open, and have them imitate /k/, /g/ or a coughing type sound.
I 4. I move the child back into a sitting position, still on the ball, and bounce them gently while I model /k, k, k, k/ or /g, g, g, g/ and encourage them to imitate. Even just hanging their mouth open and vocalizing a back vowel is ok.
5 5. Then we repeat. We almost always get at least a couple /k/ or /g/ sounds on the first day, certainly on the second.
My conjecture is that the position of laying back (extended back) gets you closer to the correct tongue position than simply lying on the floor would. Also, by following up with bouncing, which also seems to encourage back rather than front sounds, we get immediate carry-over in a more natural position.
Getting a back sound is one of the few times in which I really strive to get at least an approximation in isolation before moving on to words. But even here, I’ll move onto words as quickly as I can. My favorite word is “Go!” because it’s easy and it has major impact. We’ll set up a marble run and won’t release a marble until we can tell it to go.
I’m at a distinct advantage because my name is Kim and I can use it as a minimal pair. I always ask front-ers to refer to me as “Miss Kim” rather than Mrs. Lewis. I have a very sad face I use when they call me “Miss Tim.”
“Oh, I’m not a boy. Tim is a boy name. I’m Miss Kim.”
As I choose other targets, I avoid words that include either /t/ or /d/ for a while. If I feel like we are ready to make things a little more tricky, I’m apt to start including /l/ (i.e. “lick” “luck” “log” “goal”) first.
Two other games I use in therapy are: Action Articulation for Z, L or G and PolarBear Plunge for Articulation.
Let me know if this technique works for you or if you have something else we should try!